London economy facing £2bn climate hit to economy

·3-min read
.  (AP)
. (AP)

London faces a near £2 billion hit to its economy if climate change causes temperatures to soar by 2 degrees by the end of the century, a new report has warned.

The lengthy study, published by the independent Climate Change Committee (CCC) on Wednesday, highlights research which shows that unless the capital adapts to rising temperatures then its productivity could slump by 0.4 per cent.

A report earlier this month by climate scientists as part of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that it was now “more likely than not” that global warming will reach a 1.5C rise since pre-industrial times in the near-term. Governments around the world agreed in Paris in 2015 to limit warming to 1.5C.

With London generating £456bn of economic output in 2020, according to the most recent official data available, that could cost the capital £1.8bn in lost productivity.

The grim forecast comes after Londoners had to endure record temperatures of 40 degrees last summer which caused wildfires, crippled transport networks and overwhelmed emergency services.

Chris Stark, Chief Executive of the CCC, told the Standard: “London like every city is exposed to the impact of climate change but it’s particularly exposed because of the level of economic activity that takes place there. There are physical climate risks that frankly stop workers coming to work.

“The other impact is we have problems with infrastructure, notably transport infrastructure.”

In its biennial report on how the UK is meeting the challenge of climate change, the CCC notes that “despite a limited UK-specific evidence base, one study suggests that a 2 degrees warming trajectory could cost around 0.4 per cent of economic output for London in a warm year due to a reduction in productivity”.

Last year research by City Hall showed that the number of visitors in central London fell to 74 per cent of the previous month’s total when temperatures reached 40 degrees in July.

Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “The climate crisis is real and urgent, with devastating consequences for the health of our citizens and planet. This report underlines that the impact for London would be severe – for Londoners’ health, our environment and our economy.

“The heatwaves last summer, flash flooding the year before, and the around 4000 premature deaths a year attributable to air pollution have brought this home to Londoners.

“I’m doing all I can to tackle the climate crisis, investing millions of pounds to reach net-zero by 2030, and pushing ahead with bold policies such as expanding the ULEZ.

“But the Government continue to be far too slow on delivering the climate action we need. Ignoring the science and delaying action on climate change will have devastating consequences for London and the whole of the country."

In the latest critical report on the UK’s plans to tackle climate change, the CCC said Britain was “strikingly unprepared”.

The CCC said there had been limited progress on reducing water consumption and leakage and there was an absence of a clear strategy to protect the productivity of agriculture as weather conditions change.

Energy Secretary Grant Shapps is expected to unveil an updated set of measures on Thursday outlining how the UK will hit its net zero target by 2050.

According to a report in The Times, these are set to include a consultation on a new system of “carbon border taxes” designed to protect UK manufacturers from being undercut by countries with lax environmental rules.

Mr Shapps is also expected to confirm that the Government will make grants worth hundreds of pounds avaialble to people to make their homes more energy efficient.

Mr Stark added that the sort of extreme heat events seen last year were only likely to intensify in the years to come. “That kind of impact is the kind of impact that I am afraid we are going to see more and more of as we head towards the middle of the century,” he said.