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Tag Archives: Cities
August 2016: Looking through the 2016 issues of academic journal CITIES, there are a number of interesting papers with an energy/environmental theme posted online which are also Open Access – and hence available to download free of charge. These include:
- City dweller aspirations for cities of the future: How do environmental and personal wellbeing feature?
- Quality of life in cities – Empirical evidence in comparative European perspective
- Streamlining urban housing development: Are there environmental sustainability impacts?
- Where are urban energy transitions governed? Conceptualizing the complex governance arrangements for low-carbon mobility in Europe
- Cities and climate change mitigation: Economic opportunities and governance challenges in Asia
- Governing cities for sustainable energy: The UK case
- Methodologies for city-scale assessment of renewable energy generation potential to inform strategic energy infrastructure investment
- How website users segment a city: The geography of housing search in London
25 July 2016: The Mayor has today been appointed a Vice Chair of C40 Cities, representing the Europe region on the group’s steering committee, alongside Copenhagen. C40’s press release included the following statement from the Mayor:
“… I want London to be at the cutting edge of new green technologies, generating the growth and jobs of the future. My new ambitions for Energy for Londoners, and my new role as Vice Chair of the C40 will ensure that London is a beacon to the world and helps to generate the opportunities that will accelerate the pace of change to create better cities for all.”
The next major convening of the C40 Steering Committee will take place at the C40 Mayors Summit, which will bring together mayors and sustainability leaders from all over the world. It will be held in Mexico City November 30 – December 2, 2016.
13 July 2016: Great Carbon Brief interview with Mark Watts, CEO of the C40 Cities group. Prior to his role at C40, Mark was the energy and climate change lead in City Hall during Ken Livingstone’s two terms as Mayor, where ground breaking initiatives such as London’s congestion charge and the 2007 Climate Change Action Plan were introduced.
The exchange covers many key areas across the city and climate agenda, and ends with a short discussion on London – with some positive remarks made by Mark on new Mayor, Sadiq Khan, first weeks in office – but pointing out that “We await with interest him appointing a deputy mayor for environment, which is absolutely needed.” Though a number of Deputy Mayors have been appointed by Sadiq over the past few weeks (Transport, Culture, Business, Housing etc) – an environment role remains vacant.
“CB: Okay, and much closer to home — what does a London of the future look like to you?
MW: Well, I think London actually starts from quite a good place, because here we already have a very high degree of green space. We’ve got a good level of density. It could it be a bit denser, a bit more like Paris perhaps, but basically the legacy of the Georgians and the Victorian era has been quite helpful for us. I think the thing that probably where London has the greatest opportunity — it actually links back to your question around the investor community — is that London also has the benefit of not merely of being in some sense a model for how a low carbon city works, with this very great public transport system, having a congestion pricing already in place, and all the green space, but also has a large degree of the investor community here, that if we can unlock that capital that’s sitting there ready to be used to build a green economy of the future, then you really will be able to realise the vision of a future low carbon city. And also one, you know, in a context of Brexit, one of the great things about London is its extraordinary cultural diversity, and I suspect that the cultural diversity is going to be a great benefit to delivering a low carbon world, because the cities where people of all different cultures and religions and geographies, have already learned to work together so well, as they have London, are most likely to be the ones that can also cooperate around this extraordinary challenge of avoiding catastrophic climate change.
CB: And do you have high hopes for Sadiq Khan in taking us towards this?
MW: Well, he’s got off to a great start, hasn’t he? I think this huge focus on settling inequality and some really bold moves within the first few weeks. We await with interest him appointing a deputy mayor for environment, which is absolutely needed. They need that senior level leadership and focus as has happened under the previous mayors. But, yeah, I think we expect great things from Mayor Khan.”
14 July 2016: The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is no more. Rumours started early on in the day via a tweet from the Editor of ConservativeHome:
This was followed shortly after by Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom failing to deny rumours during DECC Oral Questions session in the House of Commons.
July 2016: A recent issue of the journal Science published a number of articles around the theme Urban Planet. One of the papers published was entitled: City-integrated renewable energy for urban sustainability (link to full text). The paper takes a high-level overview on a range of key carbon reduction opportunities at the city-level.
“To prepare for an urban influx of 2.5 billion people by 2050, it is critical to create cities that are low-carbon, resilient, and livable. Cities not only contribute to global climate change by emitting the majority of anthropogenic greenhouse gases but also are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and extreme weather. We explore options for establishing sustainable energy systems by reducing energy consumption, particularly in the buildings and transportation sectors, and providing robust, decentralized, and renewable energy sources. Through technical advancements in power density, city-integrated renewable energy will be better suited to satisfy the high-energy demands of growing urban areas. Several economic, technical, behavioral, and political challenges need to be overcome for innovation to improve urban sustainability.”
12 July 2016: The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) Adaptation Sub Committee (ASC) published a major new study today providing a detailed scientific assessment of climate change risks to UK. Further information is provided in the following press release, a summary synthesis report, which also links to the individual six sector chapters – which includes a chapter on ‘People and the Built Environment‘ (which is examined below)..
Below is a summary of some of the points most relevant to London from the synthesis report:
- Urban water management: climate change is expected to lead to significant increases in heavy rainfall, with sewers in many urban areas already at or over capacity. More action is needed protect individual properties whilst also beginning to redesign urban landscapes (such as through the use of sustainable drainage approaches) to be able to cope with more intense patterns of rainfall. [p32]
- At present, there are no comprehensive policies in place to adapt existing homes and other buildings to high temperatures, manage urban heat islands, nor safeguard new homes. The level of risk from overheating across the UK is unknown for hospitals, care homes, schools, prisons, and places of work. [p33]
- The urban heat island effect. UK planning strategies do not currently make specific recommendations for reducing the heat island effect such as through planning and urban design, beyond promoting urban green space. [p34]
- More action needed to deliver sustainable drainage systems, upgrade sewers where appropriate, and tackle drivers of increasing surface runoff (e.g. impermeable surfacing in urban areas). [p61]
- Climate-related hazards damage historic structures and sites now, but there is a lack of information on the scale of current and future risks, including for historic urban green spaces and gardens as well as structures.[p66]
- The action underway in London to assess and manage risks of overheating on public transport should continue, together with similar action as needed elsewhere in the UK. [p66]
July 2016: A new European Environment Agency (EEA) study “Urban adaptation to climate change in Europe 2016 – Transforming cities in a changing climate” has just been published. The report examines whether action on adaptation has led to more climate-resilient cities and if not, what needs to be changed.
The EEA has a few references to work undertaken in London such as:
- “London is installing white panels on top of its public transport buses to reflect the rays of the summer sun and keep the vehicles cooler” (which refers to a 2014 article here). and that;
- “London held a workshop on adaptation indicators in 2015 but as of November 2015 had not yet decided how it will take the work forward” (it is not immediately clear which workshops this comment refers to).
No mention is made in the study to London’s authoritative Climate Change Adaptation Strategy from 2011 or the London Plan’s climate change adaptation policies. (NB Mayor Boris Johnson had committed in February 2015 to produce an update to the adaptation strategy sometime in 2015. Following the non-publication of this update, responding to a question a year later, he committed to the update being produced before his departure as Mayor (May 2016) – however, as yet, no update has been released).
June 2016: Positive to see the focus on energy and climate issues by a number of London Assembly members at the first question time of the new Mayor, Sadiq Khan. This month’s questions included the following issues:
the quantity of electricity supplied to TfL through the Mayor’s Licence Lite operation and few other questions on Licence Lite (here and here); supporting the growth of London community energy schemes; the London Energy Strategy; committing to London’s 25 per cent decentralised energy target; the 2020 nearly zero energy buildings target; the publication of the annual update to the GLA Energy and Climate Change Mitigation Strategy; London Energy Plan supporting studies; supporting the growth of district heating projects; support for London’s 2025 60 per cent carbon reduction target; the future of the RE:NEW and RE:FIT building retrofit programmes; the number of domestic energy efficiency retrofits supported by RE:NEW since January 2015; numbers on the GLA’s boiler scrappage list; ring fencing London’s Zero Carbon Homes offset fund; the number of zero carbon homes that could be built by 2020; zero carbon buildings planning requirements will come into force in 2019; how much money could be raised through the Zero Carbon Homes offset fund; interim targets to the Mayor’s manifesto commitment for London to be a zero carbon city by 2050; climate change and water vapour; how the Mayor will support London’s low carbon economy; emissions from river traffic (and another); zero emission cabs and PHVs abd if CO2 is a pollutant – and finally:
whether the Mayor understands “that further increases in carbon dioxide levels will not significantly increase average global temperatures due to near saturation absorption by CO2 in the 13 – 17 µm band of the infra-red spectrum”.
Previous months questions to the Mayor can be found here.
March 2016: A report has recently been published by President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology report recommending ways to make the most of technology and innovation opportunities for cities.
The report considers how the “urban ecosystem can benefit from the integration of a wide array of technologies that have been evolving rapidly, including systems to increase energy efficiency, renewable energy technologies, connected and autonomous vehicles, water and wastewater management systems, communications technologies to enhance connectivity, and new ways to do farming and manufacturing.”
Energy systems considered supporting in city environments include: Distributed renewables, Co-generation, District heating and cooling, Low-cost energy storage, Smart-grids, micro-grids, energy-efficient lighting and Advanced HVAC systems.
Four key recommendations are made in the report – the first of which is:
“The Secretary of Commerce, working with the Secretaries of Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, and Energy, should establish an interagency initiative, the Cities Innovation Technology Investment Initiative (CITII), which will encourage, coordinate, and support efforts to pioneer new models for technology-enhanced cities incorporating measurable goals for inclusion and equity.”
Similar recommendations on coordinating UK government policy action across various departments – especially in relation to supporting the roll out of low carbon energy systems – have been made over the past two years in DECC’s D3 report, the IPPR’s City Energy Report and ERP’s cities report. Though no such cross-departmental unit has as yet been established, it is interesting to note that DECC are working with a number of the cities involved in the government’s city devolution process, and are referred to in Liverpool’s devolution agreement and Manchester’s Devolution Agreement.
19 June 2015: It’s unlikely I’m going to get through the full 180 pages of the Pope’s Encyclical on Climate Change (by the way – if you’re looking for the contents page – it’s at the end of the document), but I did want to see if there was anything there on cities – and was pleased to see that there is specific consideration on how the quality of life of urban dwellers is impacted on by the state of the environment around them.
Selected below are parts of the Encyclical that touch upon the challenges placed upon cities due to environmental stresses and increasing climate change. Much of it is quite general, and much of it is probably more targeted at those growing mega-cities of the South – but the points equally resonate to pockets of deprivation in London as well as in many other developed cities.
“44. Nowadays, for example, we are conscious of the disproportionate and unruly growth of many cities, which have become unhealthy to live in, not only because of pollution caused by toxic emissions but also as a result of urban chaos, poor transportation, and visual pollution and noise. Many cities are huge, inefficient structures, excessively wasteful of energy and water. Neighbourhoods, even those recently built, are congested, chaotic and lacking in sufficient green space. We were not meant to be inundated by cement, asphalt, glass and metal, and deprived of physical contact with nature.
December 2014: A pretty major study undertaken for the C40 Cities network – ‘Urban Efficiency: A Global Survey of Building Energy EfficiencyPolicies in Cities’ – which was sponsored by Tokyo Metropolitan Government. The report is available to download here.
The report’s objectives in terms of building energy efficiency programmes were to:
- capture the range of different policies being implemented in cities around the world;
- obtain detailed information on the necessary conditions, opportunities and potential challenges when introducing and implementing such initiatives; and
- analyse what approaches have been successful in which context and why.
The policies it highlights as being most commonly implemented across cities across the world include:
- Building Energy Codes
- Reporting and benchmarking of energy performance data
- Mandatory auditing and retro-commissioning
- Emissions trading schemes
- Green building rating and energy performance labelling
- Financial incentives
- Non-financial incentives
- Awareness raising programmes
- Promoting green leases
- Voluntary leadership programmes
- Government leadership
A chapter – ‘Experiences from Frontrunner Cities’ – presents detailed case studies from “ten pioneering C40 cities implementing various kinds of programmes to drive energy efficiency and sustainability in existing commercial and residential buildings” – but doesn’t unfortunately include experiences from London. London is however included in a ‘policy map’ survey for new and existing buildings (pages 19-21).
Page 34 mentions “Almost all cities have shown a willingness to lead by example. In London, all new buildings for the Greater London Authority are required to meet the London Development Agency’s Sustainable Design and Construction Standards or exceed targets in the London Plan.” Some information on the application of the LDA’s SDC Standards can be seen from a MQ from earlier this year here.
Elsewhere in the report, London’s Better Building Partnership initiative is referenced. Pages 40 and 41 also provide a useful list of weblinks to London documents on energy efficiency initiatives.
July 2014: Papers from the University of Leeds ‘Cities, Energy and Climate Change Mitigation‘ conference held on 10th and 11th July 2014 now available online. Nothing specific to London – however – a great presentation from Imperial College’s James Keirstead questioning what actually an ‘urban energy system’ is!
Details of James’ recent book – Urban Energy Systems: An Integrated Approach – can be viewed here.