Connecting Delta Cities


London: Climate change adaptation

Climate change adaptation

The London Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (LCCAS) encourages decision makers to undertake adaptation activities despite the uncertainty of climate projections, and also to consider how to manage the residual risk. As part of the public consultation on the LCCAS, digital media channels are used to ask Londoners what they could and should do to adapt. This included YouTube movies starring the Mayor and an interactive website where Londoners can give their ideas and vote on other peoples’ ideas. This allowed a wide audience engagement in policy development and helped raise both awareness of the issue and ownership of the risk. But London is also implementing a wide range of adaptation actions. Some of them are mentioned below.

Thames Estuary 2100 (TE2100)

The UK Environment Agency has undertaken a study to identify the flood risk management options to protect London and the Thames Estuary from tidal flooding to 2100. Different adaptive measures were identified - from raising the height of existing defences to constructing a second Thames Barrier. The thresholds to protection against rising sea levels provided by each of the options are then plotted against sea level rise. This approach helps decision makers to understand the suite of options open to them and how they can be combined into a ‘decision pathways’ that create a portfolio of measures through the century.

Water neutrality

The aim is to improve the water efficiency of London’s homes to provide water for the growing population – referred to as ‘water neutrality’. In principle this means no net increase in demand despite a growth in the number of Londoners. Water and energy efficiency measures are planned for Londoners’ homes at no cost to the householder. The aim is retrofit up to 1.2 million homes by 2015. The ultimate vision is to expand ‘water neutrality’ to ‘water security’ where sufficient savings are made to provide a buffer against the impact of climate change on water supplies.

Urban greening programme

London’s urban realm and land cover intensify many of the climate impacts. For example, it is the loss of permeability caused by the traditional construction of roads and buildings that causes flash flooding, and the loss of vegetation that helps create the heat island effect. The Mayor therefore set a target of increasing green cover in central London by 10% by 2050. It is anticipated that this urban greening will help cool the city in summer and reduce the frequency and intensity of floods.

Integrating perspectives on adaptation

The various perspectives on adaptation that are outlined above cannot be addressed in isolation. They interact with one another, in particular via urban land use. In order to understand interactions between different adaptive measures, the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research has been working with the Greater London Authority to develop an Urban Integrated Assessment Facility (UIAF) which simulates the main processes of long term change in London.

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