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Mayor of London Unveils Climate Change Action Plan

Projected CO2 savings from transportation due to the Action Plan. Click to enlarge.

The Mayor of London has set out the first comprehensive plan to cut London’s carbon emissions.

The Mayor’s Climate Change Action Plan—Action Today to Protect Tomorrow—is based on the premise that Londoners don’t have to reduce their quality of life to tackle climate change, but they do need to change the way they live.

This action plan shows that many measures that will deliver the quickest carbon emissions reductions in London will also deliver net financial benefits within a fairly short space of time—improving the comfort of London’s homes and offices and putting money back into the pockets of Londoners and London businesses. Those longer run measures that will impose higher costs in the short term, will still work out as a good investment compared with the costs of doing nothing and allowing catastrophic climate change to develop.

The simple message is this: to tackle climate change you do not have to reduce your quality of life, but you do have to change the way you live. The present model of huge energy production followed by huge energy waste—in the losses from power stations, from houses, from commercial property, and from transport—is utterly inefficient and is irreparably damaging the planet. There must be a decisive shift to an economy in which energy is conserved, not wasted, and therefore in which far less energy needs to be produced per unit of economic activity.

—Mayor of London Ken Livingstone

The Mayor launched four programs which will form the basis of the Plan:

  • Green Transport. London is unusual compared with many large cities around the world in that its emissions from transport (excluding aviation) are relatively small—about 22% of the total. Transport emissions in London have stayed flat since 1990 despite the rapid growth of London’s population and economy thanks to high long-term levels of public transport use and, since 2000, unprecedented investment in the public transport network, alongside the implementation of policies like the congestion charge to combat congestion and manage traffic. The plan sets out how annual transport emissions can be cut by 4.3 million tonnes. CO2 emissions from road transport would fall by as much as 30% if people simply bought the most fuel-efficient version of the car they want.

  • Green Homes. Homes are responsible for 38% of emissions. The plan sets out how annual domestic carbon dioxide emissions can be reduced by 7.7 million tonnes by 2025. By making homes more energy efficient, the average London household could save £300 per year off their fuel bills, as well as cutting emissions. The Mayor announced that he will be offering cut-price loft and cavity wall insulation, available across the whole of London to every home that can benefit from it. The offer will be free for people on benefits and will particularly look to ensure that older Londoners can take advantage.

  • Green Organizations. London’s employers, both commercial and public sector, are responsible for 33% of the capital’s emissions. If all of London’s employers introduced simple changes like turning off lights and IT equipment at night, emissions would be cut by more than three million tonnes a year. Modest improvements to the energy efficiency of London’s commercial and public buildings would cut emissions by a further two million tonnes. If all of the actions in this Plan were implemented they would save employers up to 20% on their energy bills.

  • Green Energy. It will not be possible for London to achieve its carbon reduction targets without a fundamental change in how energy is generated and supplied. The Action Plan sets a target to move a quarter of London’s energy supply off the National Grid and on to more efficient, local energy systems by 2025.

The Green Transport plan’ top priority is to reduce emissions from car and freight traffic, since these represent nearly three quarters of emissions in this sector. Initiatives outlined include:

  • Changing the way Londoners travel. A major program of continued investment in public transport, walking and cycling to provide attractive alternatives to car travel (as outlined in Transport for London’s Transport 2025 work). It also includes promoting alternatives to the car through marketing, information and other travel demand management policies. London-wide, this can deliver nearly a million tonnes of CO2 savings per annum. For an average Londoner, switching from driving to work to taking the bus will save 0.6 tonnes of carbon per year; taking up cycling instead would increase these savings to 1.1 tonnes.

  • Operating vehicles more efficiently. Simply driving more sensibly can reduce fuel use by 5-10%. The Mayor will promote ecodriving (for example, smoother acceleration/braking and proper vehicle maintenance) by all car, freight, taxi and public transport drivers.

  • Promoting low-carbon vehicles and fuels. The biggest opportunity for emissions reductions in this sector is from uptake of lower-carbon vehicles and fuels, which alone could cut transport emissions by up to 4-5 million tonnes. CO2 emissions from road transport would fall by as much as 30% if people simply bought the most fuel efficient car in each class.

  • Carbon pricing for transport. More widespread carbon pricing will be essential to incentivize demand for low-carbon vehicles and fuels, and to drive innovation in further developing these technologies. The Mayor wants London to become the first major city in the world to charge cars to enter its central business area on the basis of their carbon emission levels.

The Mayor will also pursue an ambitious program of energy-saving measures across public transport. This includes regenerative braking on the Tube and the conversion of London’s entire 8,000-bus fleet to diesel-electric hybrid vehicles.

Aviation comes in for separate consideration.

Air travel is also one of the key elements of today’s global economy, so curbing aviation emissions presents a global challenge. London is a major UK and international air travel hub, with London’s airports handling 30% of passengers entering or departing the UK. London’s role in the world economy and its “world city” status depend on maintaining these links with the rest of the world.

Aviation emissions today account for approximately seven per cent of total UK CO2 emissions. However, forecasts suggest that historic growth rates of 6-7% per annum will continue and possibly increase if the market and regulatory environments remain as they are.

...For aviation, unlike most other sectors considered in this report, there are real technological, as well as political and regulatory barriers, to reducing carbon emissions in the short to medium term. That is why much of the public debate has centred on reducing demand for flying.

The Mayor’s plans calls for acting where it can to reduce aviation emissions. These steps include:

  • Seeking to influence EU and international aviation policy including the earliest possible inclusion of aviation in the EU emissions trading scheme (ETS) and levying duty on aviation fuel.

  • Working with the aviation industry to implement efficiencies that can deliver a step-change reduction in emissions, and where necessary lobbying the European Union for research and development funding.

  • Challenging the need for further runway expansion at UK airports.

  • Educating Londoners and advocating alternatives to air travel as part of overall communications on climate change and working with the government to develop price-competitive, high-speed rail services.

  • Leading by example ensuring that all agencies under Mayoral control avoid flights wherever possible and offset their emissions when air travel is the only option.

The Mayor announced that £78 million (US$152 million) will be reprioritized over three years within existing Greater London Authority finances this year to launch the Action programs.

By 2025 London must produce 33 million tonnes less of CO2 than its current levels—an annual emissions reduction of 4% a year. 20 million tonnes of this reduction can be achieved through the actions set out in the Plan. A further 13 million tonnes requires additional national and international action.

The Action Plan sets out that the problem is not that new technologies are required but that the government needs to introduce comprehensive carbon pricing to encourage the faster take-up of existing energy efficiency measures.




One of México's action plans is to plant 250 million trees during 2007.
The UN's goal is that, during 2007, 1000 million trees should be planted in the whole world.


Time is running out. All those Mayors signing up to Kyoto in the U.S. need real action plans with teeth. On the other hand, London is showing you need to go way beyond Kyoto. Just meeting Kyota is a disaster and those mayors in the U.S. are kidding themselves and their citizens.

Bob Bastard

Hats off to Red Ken. This is a nice, well thought out plan. It focuses on individual responsibility as well as government action and highlights the individual as well as collective benefit of reducing energy consumption and CO2 output. I like the fact that it stresses conservation as well as technological solutions, and compared with many plans I've seen, it focuses on results more than individual technologies. IMHO, this is a model that can and should be followed by governments and individuals everywhere.


Sounds like a pretty solid plan to me. However as far as aviation goes I think they need to look at the owner of Virgin Airlines(can't think of his name off the top of my head)ideas for reducing CO2 emissions.

Harvey D.

Mayors of the World should unit behind the mayor of London to get the ball rolling and shame the higer authorities in action.

How many other major city mayors have what it takes? A united effort from one dozen major cities would be a good start. Others would follow.

Harvey D.

Mayors of the World should unit behind the mayor of London to get the ball rolling and shame the higer authorities in action.

How many other major city mayors have what it takes? A united effort from one dozen major cities would be a good start. Others would follow.


Iys far easier for a single city to meet kyoto then it is for a nation. For opne thing alot that a city ignores as not thiers.. a nation cant.

For anouther the dirtoest vital industries are never in cities anyway.

For another... its one thing to spend a buttload on one cty its anouthet yto spend the same amunt on ALL of them and every town and village and farmer bob 5 miles past the dead cow.. no the other dead cow.

Also a city can effectively squeeze out alot of people using things like this without getting screwed.. a antion cant.

Oh and of course lodon can ignore the fact its a tourist destination and thus is a big ass part of the problem. Oh gee thats not our problem.. shovels money from tourism into bank vault... no siree bob its not us...

But boy will they feel it when real life catches up and the global toruism industry fallss apart.


Its probably worth mentioning that Red Ken isn't too popular with most large businesses or their employees.

Remember most of the workers in the city aren't voters in said city due to commuting.

His popularity with Londoners is about to go down the toilet due to the financial fiasco that is the London Olympics.



Not to mention how wonderfullondon will be after said companies leave it to form up utside the city limits.Same sort of mess happened around here and the companies en mass just closed sop and moved a ways over.


The best way of reducing London's emissions from air travel would be to provide descent rail links into Heathrow.

In particular, the Airtrack proposal for Waterloo, Richmond, Staines Heathrwo, and a branch of the Heathrow Express to Reading, and descent Park and Ride on the M25.


No the best way would be to reduce tourism in lodon to reduce air trvel to london. Tourism the dirtiest uindustry aroubd.


Gah I swear my proofreading ability is almost as bad as bushes speaking!

What i realy trying to say is I dont trust people that try and say they are clean yet have realy just pushed the problem elsewhere and maybe eveb made things worse overall.

So many times these showcase projects hide a dark messy underbelly.

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