Boris unveils London’s climate adaptation strategy

London mayor Boris Johnson is to develop an “urban greening programme” for the capital as part of his climate change adaptation strategy

The strategy, published last Friday, sets out how London will cope with flooding, drought and overheating. It also proposes measures to cope with the effect of climate change on health, transport and the economy.

An “urban greening programme” will be developed by stakeholders responsible for green spaces, the strategy says. Existing initiatives such as boroughs’ open space strategies, catchment flood management plans, river restoration and tree-planting programmes will be brought together. Where there is no other space for greening an area, green roofs and green walls should be developed.

The strategy recommends the mayor and boroughs require development to demonstrates how it is designed and constructed to adapt to a changing climate. The mayor will work with the Environment Agency, boroughs and the London Development Agency (LDA) to identify and safeguard areas for future flood storage.

On surface water flooding, the mayor will work with Drain London, a forum set up following the Greater London Authority’s 2007 water strategy, to clarify responsibility for the maintenance of London’s drains. It is assessing the scope for storage and dissipation of excess rainwater within the sewerage system and using roads to convey water away from vulnerable development.

The mayor proposes preparing the capital for drought by working with water companies, the LDA and the London Climate Change Partnership to make existing homes more water efficient.

The strategy also recognises the urban heat island effect. During the heatwave of 2003, central London was up to 10oC warmer than the surrounding greenbelt. The mayor wants to define an “urban heat island action area”, where new development must contribute to offsetting urban warming.

Johnson also announced the appointment of his environmental adviser. Isabel Dedring is currently director of the policy unit of Transport for London, where she has overseen the strategies on climate change, low carbon transport, low carbon building retrofits and sustainable travel planning. She has a law degree from Harvard University and has worked for consultancies Mckinsey and Ernst and Young.