London's Mayor Boris Johnson has established an ambitious program: "Leading to a greener London". It aims to transform the city into the most clean and green city in the world, to enhance the quality of life of Londoners, to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions, and to prepare the city to meet adequately the effects of irreversible climate change.
Specific steps to be followed include: increasing of energy efficiency, increasing the efficiency of material use, increasing the share of renewable energy, converting of waste into energy, significantly reducing the impact of transport, and the very large scale planting of trees.
London is already a very green city – from a bird's eye view it appears that more than half of its area is green or blue. Moreover, energy efficiency is remarkable – the carbon footprint of Londoners is only half compared with the average for Great Britain as a whole.
But Mayor Boris Johnson is not satisfied. He wants much more "green" for his city as well as wanting to take advantage of the investment opportunities relating to the 2012 Olympics and Paraolympics. Finally, he wants to achieve the maximum benefits for the city's inhabitants by making London the cleanest city in the world.
Through 2012 his program envisions the planting of 10,000 trees on London's streets and creation of 1,000 hectares of new green spaces. By 2012 new allotments of land will be provided for those who are willing to handle gardens and grow their own fruits and vegetables. Plans also provide additional incentives for building green roofs and for expansion of green belts and parks. By 2025 a total of two million trees will be planted, increasing the area of forested land to 25% of the total area of London, or 5% higher compared with the current percent. By 2050 the plan provides the afforestation of a further 5% of London.
Annually the city generates about 22 million tons of waste that could be used as a source of energy in the coming years – a "gold mine", in the words of Johnson.
In regard to transportation, London will continue to support the so-called "cycle revolution", plus a planned conversion of all public buses to hybrid. Almost all vehicles that will serve the Olympic Games will be electric vehicles, and the municipality will use 1,000 electric vehicles in its own fleet. By 2012 London will add 30 kilometers of sidewalks and bicycle lanes.
This vision for cleaner and quieter city streets provides for the number of electric cars in 2020 to be not less than 100,000.
Another specific objective pursued by the program is a 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of the city – with half of it due to measures introduced at the national level and the other half due to the city's own regulations.
With regard to new buildings, strict requirements will be put on their energy efficiency and ability to meet the challenges of climate change.
Citizens of London already know climate change effects – they experienced severe heat waves in 2003 and 2006, the exceptional drought in 2005-2006, and floods of 2000 and 2007. It is expected in the coming decades these extreme weather conditions could become annual.
To deal with them, London's authorities will carry out extensive risk assessments and require architects and developers to apply special measures to newly constructed buildings; the plan puts in focus the optimization of public infrastructure and retrofitting of existing buildings to new requirements.
For all the extensive efforts toward implementation of these measures the city of London will rely very much on the voluntary participation of all its citizens.
Read the full text of "Leading to a greener London".