London struggles for its place amidst exemplary EU nations including Norway and Sweden.
London, home to nearly 9 million people, has been feeling the pressure of Paris Agreement goals. This Monday, London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced his intention to transform London into an example of energy efficiency and reduction of carbon emissions. Kahn plans to make the city “zero carbon” by 2050 and also dramatically improve air quality by 2030.
The mayor allotted £9 million to a Greener City Fund, to maintain the city’s green areas and create new community spaces. Currently, 47% of London’s area is green. Under new project objectives, London intends to dedicate more than 50% to green area by 2050. While this is a small percentage increase, the initiative will be difficult to maintain in the face of growing development and infrastructure.
“London is home to outstanding green spaces that I want to protect, invest in and improve as we aim to become the world’s first National Park City,” said Khan, also referring to his strategy for the Woodberry Wetlands in north London. “We can also increase the amount of greenery in the city by installing many more green roofs and making our streets greener.”
Another concern in London is the poor air quality, sitting at a 71 on the Air Quality Index, indicating “Moderate” health danger. Particulate matter is a specific concern, including carcinogens PM2.5 and PM10, primarily caused by fuel emissions and wood burning. Preserving green spaces and allotting more areas to plant trees in the city will help improve air quality. By 2030, London plans to bring air quality standards up to those laid out by the World Health Organization, which presents stricter standards than those set out by the EU.
“More than 9,000 Londoners die prematurely every year as a direct consequence of our air, which is so dirty it repeatedly breaches legal limits,” Khan stated. “Air pollution has been linked to asthma, strokes, heart disease and dementia – and is also to blame for children in parts of our city growing up with underdeveloped lungs. Indeed, some of the worst pollution hotspots are around schools.”
For comparison purposes, the German city of Essen was awarded the European Green Capital Award for 2017. Essen has 53% of its city area dedicated to open community spaces and greenery. The city features green infrastructure, environment and biodiversity protection measures, innovation in water treatment and energy efficiency. Once a heavy industrial mining area, Essen is the self-proclaimed “city in transformation.”
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