London: Achieving Net Zero

April 2020: Think tank Future of London recently hosted a useful online seminar for their ‘Achieving Net Zero‘ project, involving public sector and built environment professionals looking at the challenges faced in decarbonising London’s building stock.

The session included speakers from the London boroughs of Camden, Lambeth and Hounslow providing updates on their climate emergency plans – as well as contributions from LandSec, Arup and Montagu Evans amongst others. The agenda for the meeting is available to download here – and the webinar has been posted in full online and can be seen here.

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Businesses must take bigger strides towards net zero carbon

14 April 2020: Welcome to see the following blog published on the website of London business trade association, London First, by Robert Spencer, Head of Sustainable Development at AECOM. The article highlights the challenges of decarbonising to Net Zero London’s built environment – including at looking at area-wide opportunities through deploying technologies such as heat networks. “A recent example of a heat network in action is on AECOM’s 339 Edgware Road project in London [sic – should be 399]. This is a mixed-use development encompassing 183 residential units, a Morrison’s supermarket and Oriental and Far Eastern retail malls and food courts.”

Some background to the energy strategy employed at this project is provided on the planning report from Brent Council here and the GLA’s planning report here.

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COVID-19 provides lessons on climate adaptation for cities

9 April 2020: Link to an article on phys.org – one of a number which are bringing together some of the parallels between the impacts cities are facing as a result of the coronavirus crisis and likely challenges these urban communities will encounter due to increasing temperatures as a result of global climate change. This piece, by environmental lawyer Amy Turner (also senior fellow at Columbia Law School’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law) includes some useful links to other thought pieces and research work in this area.

“I hesitate to draw early conclusions about the connection between global emissions, climate impacts and our current pandemic conditions. However, this is a moment of opportunity to marry the best of city climate policy and virus response. While big policy conclusions, connections and questions will continue to be debated, right now there are important observations to be made and potential lessons learned for city policymakers about overlapping approaches from past emissions reduction policies, current COVID-19 policy and future climate policy after the virus has subsided. This post explores some of these intersecting policy areas.”

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A framework for understanding local government sustainable energy capacity applied in England

April 2020: Academic research paper published in Energy Research & Social Science Volume 62, April 2020 looking at a critical issue of the lack of capacity within local authorities to engage on energy and climate issues.

“Analyses of local climate change governance and sustainable energy transitions have tended to focus on understanding broader governance networks, within which local governments are important actors. Such approaches often make appeals to (lack of) capacity when seeking to understand the many limits to local sustainability programmes, however local government capacity is rarely given a primary analytical focus. We offer a definition of local government sustainable energy capacity, organise it into six types, and explore it in relation to contextual factors across scales: political institutions; energy and climate change policies and material aspects of energy systems. This heuristic framework is applied to case studies of eight local and combined authorities in England, a country with particularly centralised political institutions and energy systems. We conclude that capacity is a useful lens through which to explore the extent to which, and importantly how, local governments can become active sustainability actors. We also find that the development of knowledge capacity is becoming increasingly important; that there is some evidence of political re-scaling in energy; and identify some ways in which material aspects of energy systems have significant implications for local government sustainable energy capacity. Open access article here.

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100% of Hackney Council electricity now supplied by renewables

2 April 2020: Following on from plans set out in July 2019, and a climate emergency declaration made in June 2019, Hackney have now announced the council will be sourcing all of its electricity supplies from renewable generation. Hackney’s press release sets out that its annual £6.5m electricity bill will now go to “electricity sourced from wind and solar power”.

The Council’s strategy is to shift its energy supplies to fully renewable sources, initially via green tariffs linked to Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGO) – which today’s announcement relates to – with an ambition to move to supporting the development of new/additional renewable energy supplies by the council entering into longer term Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) (ie rather than sourcing green electricity from the power market, directly investing in new renewable generation through a long-term contract).

A July 2019 article by the Hackney Gazette sets out that: “Cllr Jon Burke (Lab, Woodberry Down), cabinet member for energy, laid out further ambitions to decarbonise the council’s gas demand on top of its electricity. He is also aiming to secure a contract to purchase renewable energy directly, going beyond the current arrangement which sees Hackney’s energy come with certification guaranteeing it as renewable.

“Cllr Burke said: “Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin certificates (REGOs) are a major step forward for the council in delivering our 2018 manifesto commitment to transform the way we purchase wholesale energy to increase the generation of renewable energy beyond Hackney’s borders by using our corporate spending on gas and electricity to increase investment in sources of clean energy. However, we want to go a step further by securing a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with a specific generation facility.”

A Hackney Council procurement meeting in September 2019 included a paper which provides some further details on the contract:

  • As part of the Mayor and Council’s commitment to rapidly decarbonising the full functions of the local authority, the Council switched to a minimum of 50% renewable electricity on 1 April 2019. This next step will see the Council secure 100% renewable electricity through the purchase of Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin Certificates (REGO).
  • The natural next step in the process beyond 1 April 2020 will be to explore the potential for a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with a specific generation facility. …Securing such an agreement…would demonstrate in a very visible way to the residents of Hackney that our corporate spending on renewables is contributing to the delivery of new sources of clean energy, rather than merely sending a signal to the market that more renewable energy is required, which is the role that the purchase of REGO certificates performs.

Suppliers awarded have not been announced – but an October 2019 procurement paper sets out the sums awarded (point 7).

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Energy efficiency boost for London homes

1 April 2020: Further information has become available on the Mayor’s latest iteration of his homes energy efficiency retrofit programme. Previously known as RE:NEW, the Mayor announced back in February, via the following press release, the new Retrofit Accelerator for Homes programme stating that it will be “the first initiative of its kind in the UK – will provide much-needed support for the under-resourced public sector to retrofit homes with urgent upgrades and improvements such as better insulation, low-carbon heat and alternative power sources.”

The GLA webpage for the programme sets out that the programme will:

  • Help London boroughs and housing associations to develop energy efficiency projects at scale with technical and commercial solutions.
  • Get started on 1,600 whole-house retrofits in Greater London over the next three years.
  • Create a market for the low carbon and environmental goods and services sector, creating new, high-skilled jobs.
  • Save over 4,000 tonnes of CO2 a year.
  • Unlock funding and low-cost finance for energy efficiency projects.
  • Tackle fuel poverty by making homes warmer and more affordable.

The Mayor responded to a recent question stating that the “primary objective of the Retrofit Accelerator – Homes programme is to reduce carbon emissions. But its target audience (social housing) and approach to improving the performance of dwellings (deep, whole-house retrofit) means that many Londoners vulnerable to fuel poverty and living in some of the least energy efficient properties will benefit.”

A further question set out some further information on the targets for the programme: “My Retrofit Accelerator – Homes programme has a target of 1,678 homes being either fully retrofitted, in the process of being retrofitted or in contract to be retrofitted by August 2022. Of those, at least 50 homes need to have ‘deep retrofits’ completed and monitored during this period. Deep retrofits’ will take a whole house approach and reduce the carbon each home is responsible for by an average of 60 per cent and in many cases to near net-zero energy. For comparison these homes should save 2.5 times as much carbon per home than was achieved on average under the previous RE:NEW programme.” Some further info here

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London’s wider greenhouse gas impacts

March 2020: A new research paper published by the Greater London Authority (GLA) considering an issue often raised – which is what is the total impact of London’s greenhouse gas emissions, taking into account the goods and services that Londoners use.

The paper ‘Consumption based Greenhouse Gas Emissions for London
(2001 – 2016)
‘ undertaken by the University of Leeds, sets out that it was commissioned to understand “the total greenhouse gas impact Londoners have, including those emissions that take place outside London’s physical boundaries, in order to tackle the climate emergency.” The methodology employed in the report allows for “emissions that occur due to the consumption activities of London residents, including all the emissions associated with the production of goods and services throughout their complete supply chain…” So what difference does it make to London’s GHG emissions when taking into account a combustion based route?

Continue reading
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London Plan: letter from the Secretary of State for Housing to the Mayor

13 March 2020: The Secretary of State for the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG), Robert Jenrick MP, has written to the Mayor on issues relating to housing and the New London Plan stating that there is a “need for an improved London Plan that meets London’s housing needs.” The Minister’s letter (which has attracted press attention – see here and here) goes on to say “I am left with no choice but to exercise my powers to direct changes.” An accompanying Annex to the letter sets out the changes the Minister wants to the London Plan. None of these relate to the major steps forward the New London Plan has proposed on increasing the carbon and energy efficiency of London’s new developments (see Policy SI 2 Minimising greenhouse gas emissions of the ‘Intend to Publish London Plan‘) – however – there will now be a delay to the publication to the London Plan until the Mayor enacts the changes set out in the Annex. The letter states:

“Due to the number of the inconsistencies with national policy and missed opportunities to increase housing delivery, I am exercising my powers under section 337 of the Greater London Authority Act 1999 to direct that you cannot publish the London Plan until you have incorporated the Directions I have set out at Annex 1. Should you consider alternative changes to policy to address my concerns, I am also content to consider these.”

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Ealing Southall Climate Crisis Summit

January 2020: Good to see Ealing Southall MP Vivendra Sharma is organising a climate change summit on the afternoon of Saturday 18 January at the Dominion Centre, Southhall. The summit will be “discussing why we need fundamental change and how we will achieve it. Across panel discussions, group activities and Q&A sessions, we will also be hearing from those climate campaigners who are leading the fight against the ecological disaster facing us.”

Ealing Council is one of the 26 London local authorities (to date) to declare a ‘Climate Emergency’ – which was agreed at the Council’s April 2019 meeting. A July 2019 council paper sets out some immediate priorities following the signing of the declaration (appendices to which are posted here), and further actions are also set out in a Cabinet meeting paper of October 2019).

Local community group, Ealing Transition, has been hugely successful by working with Schools Energy Co-op in deploying a number of solar projects on schools across the borough, details of which are set out in a presentation provided to Community Energy London in September 2019.

Full details and registration details of the Ealing Climate Crisis Summit event are on the following Eventbrite page.

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Waltham Forest the first Council to install the first permanent City Trees in London

31 December 2019: Interesting story issued on the last day of the year from Waltham Forest Borough announcing that it is to be the first council to have “permanently installed two City Trees in Leytonstone. CityTree is a free-standing outdoor air cleaning system that uses the power of biotechnology to emulate the pollution-reduction benefits of 275 urban trees.

The press release goes on to provide some further detail on the CityTree, which is apparently a “… self-sustaining structure that contains a water tank, with automatic irrigation and plant sensors all powered by on board solar panels and batteries. The different types of moss bind environmental toxins such as particulate matter and nitrogen oxides while at the same time producing oxygen. Cutting-edge integrated technology can deliver comprehensive information on air filtering performance and status as well as environmental data on the CityTree’s surroundings.”

There’s no image of what this technology look’s like on the news release – but Westminster Council ran a pilot earlier this year – which includes a picture of what the CityTree looks like – which can be seen on AirQuality News’s website here, which also states the “technology has previously been trialled in Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam and Oslo. It is being supplied in the UK by green technology firm Evergen Systems.”

A blog on the Evergen website sets out some pretty remarkable results of 2018 field tests undertaken in Delhi, where it has also been installed. There’s not much detailed data at the moment that I can find out on the CityTree, but I’m sure the recently appointed Waltham Forest Climate Emergency Committee, which I sit on, will be examining CityTree at a forthcoming meeting.

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London City Airport Draft Masterplan and Climate Change

September 2019:The Chief Executive’s foreword to the London City Airport’s Draft Masterplan, currently out for consultation, commits the organisation to the following: “We will become a carbon neutral business by 2020 and fully support and welcome the Government’s recent commitments to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Our ambition is to be at the forefront of this agenda, and we will achieve these 2050 targets by employing the latest technology and innovation and working with our airlines and partners to help the achieve these goals too.”

The Masterplan’s Sustainability Strategy sets out that on ‘Carbon and Climate Change’ the airport’s plans are to:

  • Become an independently accredited ‘carbon neutral’ business by 2020;
  • Work with airlines to deliver more new generation aircraft which are more fuel efficient and will emit fewer carbon emissions per passenger per flight;
  • Achieve net zero emissions by 2050, consistent with the emerging
  • commitments from governments and industry around the world;
  • Invest more in low carbon technology and more energy efficient buildings;
  • Promote increased public and sustainable transport usage by staff and passengers;
  • Work with airlines and manufacturers on the hybrid and electric
  • aircraft agenda; and
  • Work with NATS to deliver their predicted annual savings in fuel burn and CO2 emissions through participation in the Government’s airspace modernisation process.

However, as pointed out by HACAN (Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise), London City Airport has admitted that it does not know as yet the impact on climate change emissions of their expansion proposals.

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London City Airport GHG Emissions

September 2019: Helpful press release from HACAN (Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise) stating that London City Airport has admitted that it does not know the impact on climate change emissions of the expansion proposals outlined in its draft Master Plan currently out for consultation. A technical note on ‘carbon and GHG emissions’ sets out that:

“It is not possible at this time to calculate total emissions which might arise from the draft Master Plan because this relies upon the accurate quantification of GHG emissions using detailed modelling and data from a combination of aircraft forecasts, fleet mix composition, construction and engineering designs, energy supply, and other details of the proposed future infrastructure. However, during the Master Plan period up to 2035, it can be expected that further improvements in aircraft fuel efficiency and emissions will take place as greater numbers of ‘new generation’ aircraft such as the Airbus A220-100 are introduced to the fleet. Moreover, the airport is predicted to accommodate an approximate 69% increase in passengers by 2035 (i.e. from 6.5 to 11 million passengers per annum) coupled with only a 36% increase in flights (i.e. from the 111,000 ATMs to 151,000 ATMs) and with only limited additional infrastructure. As such, provisional analysis would suggest that carbon emissions per passenger will decrease even further over the Master Plan period. 2.29 Should a detailed proposal come forward in the future, the airport would need to assess the total GHG emissions of that proposal as part of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)”.

This issue will continue to be scrutinised as London City Airport continues with its planning application.

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