On 11th December 2018, Sadiq Khan declared a Climate Emergency in London. A week later he published the 1.5C Compatible Action Plan.

Additionally, on January 12th 2019, in light of the IPCC report, the Mayor updated London’s commitment to being a zero carbon city from 2050 down to 2030 . This sets a far tighter trajectory and we must all revise ambitions and strategy significantly, to match this new reality.


The carbon crunch got a lot tighter

Reducing energy demand/ embedded carbon from  new infrastructure/ vehicles will mean tough choices have to be made

  • Cancelling Silvertown Tunnel and Crossrail 2 is inevitable (The high Embedded carbon of these infrastructure projects are not in line with a Climate Emergency. Cement and steel emissions would be far too high)
  • Mini -Holland for any borough that wants it. Transformational dense cycling networks with carfree town centres. (30 x 30 million ring fenced. Design standards must be at Waltham Forest mini Holland level or better)
  • Traffic-free efficient walking and cycling networks replacing some buses. Expanded Pedestrianised areas and wider pavements. Cycle only streets  (where alternative Underground/ Overground /Rail exist, for instance central London).
  • New Buses only pure electric (no hybrids locking us into fossil fuels)
  • Pedicabs and pedalmeapp replacing motorised Taxis and Cabs
  • Remaining Taxis / cabs only pure electric
  • Replacing motor vehicle delivery with last mile cargo bike delivery and cycling logistics
  • Replacing commercial and Government services (currently by motorised vehicles) to electric assist cycle / cargo bike
  • Remaining essential vehicles only pure electric.
  • Extending Congestion Charge hours to 24/7. Removing all exemptions. Raising price of charge.
  • Tightening ULEZ Ultra Low Emission Zone) to include all fossil fuel vehicles and extending across Greater London as quickly as possible.
  • Removing all street car parking from Central London, town centres, quietways and the strategic road network.
  • Carfree Fridays Combining with Work free Fridays for a 4 day working week. ( the connection between emissions and working hours)
  • Upgrading remaining railway lines in London to Transport for London Overground standards (capacity has increased x 5 on the Overground since lines have been run by TFL)
  • Data needs to be made more efficient and targeted. Low tech supercedes high energy data proliferation and ‘smart’ tech.

Transport for London Energy use

According to a recent article in Wired, dated 30th November 2018

Transport for London uses more electricity than anything else in the city. The Underground and Overground rail networks alone consume an astonishing 1.2 terawatt-hours each year, enough to power around 360,000 homes. Then there are buses, trams and an array of other infrastructure.

The TFL Health, Safety and Environment report 2016/17 says:

 Our carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions come from the fuel used to run buses and other vehicles, electricity to power trains and trams, and the energy supplied to our buildings and equipment.

Electricity use in 2016/17 fell by 1.56 per cent to 1.69 terawatt hours. Within this overall result, there was an increase from running NightTube and more frequent services and a reduction from efficient street lighting.

Total CO2 emissions associated with our activities was 2.08 million tonnes compared with 2.17 million tonnes in 2015/16 – a 4.1 per cent decrease. The main factor has been the reduction in carbon intensity of our electricity supply from National Grid. Continued improvements in the energy efficiency of transport infrastructure and the carbon intensity of the grid are vital to reaching the Mayor’s long term goal of a zero carbon city.

Professor Tim Green and colleagues at Imperial College, London, have been advocates of the idea of trackside solar, and published a report, Riding Sunbeams, which found that solar arrays could meet up to six per cent of the Underground’s energy demands.

London’s rooftops (including commercial, domestic and Government) are also a very underused resource. Solar pinned to every viable roof in London would not only supply localised domestic and commercial needs but could potentially supply some of Transport for London needs too? Excess Solar energy fed into a 24 hr transport system?

Road transport

The annual road transport emissions for the Greater London Area (GLA) are projected to be 5,728,930t CO2 in 2030, (London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory 201330 data). According to Donnachadh McCarthy (Eco-auditor) that is about 1.4% of all UK current emissions . However in 2030 it would represent a far higher percentage of the total UK emissions, as other sectors are cut.

Reducing emissions from road transport down to zero net carbon (by at least 2030) will set the agenda for the next London Mayoral election.

The ambition of 80% of all personal journeys by walking, cycling and public transport will need to come much sooner than 2040. 2024 seems far more appropriate And  the ratio of walking and cycling trips to public transport trips will also need to be rebalanced, in favour of walking and cycling.