A review exploring how London can use cutting-edge technology to adapt to the threat of climate change has been announced by Sadiq Khan.
The Mayor said his ‘London Climate Resilience Review’ will examine how technology – including AI – can be harnessed to future-proof the capital against the devastating impacts of extreme temperatures and flash-flooding.
Mr Khan made the announcement in a speech to mark the start of London Tech Week, in which he said the review would be led by Emma Howard Boyd CBE, chair of the Green Finance Institute and UN Global Ambassador for Race to Resilience and Race to Zero.
The flash floods of summer 2021, and the heatwave fires of 2022 – the latter of which resulted in the busiest day for the London Fire Brigade since the Blitz – laid bare the capital’s vulnerability to the consequences of climate change.
Mr Khan told the Standard: “I’m reminded this week during what is wonderful weather, that actually, if it gets too high, it can be a problem.
“So I’m worried about two big things this summer. One is extreme temperatures. We saw last year temperatures north of 41 degrees and that causes huge problems. Many families in London can’t adapt, because their homes aren’t fit for purpose.
“I’m also worried that, often, it can lead to wildfires. If there’s a long period with no rain, the grass can become hay-like, and if there is a fire, it spreads very quickly, which is why last year, you saw massive wildfires in London.
“The second big issue that I’m concerned about this summer because of climate change, is flash-flooding.
“In the past, we’d be talking about concerns around flooding because of the edges of rivers being breached, or coastal floods.
“Now we’ve got this new phenomenon of flash-flooding – this is a lot of rain, in a short period of time.
“So we’re doing what we can to make sure we adapt and are resilient to those consequences of climate change.”
City Hall said Mr Khan has since 2019 invested over £24 million through his Green New Deal fund to improve climate resilience across the capital, plus a further £1.5 million to deliver climate adaptation measures to 95 London schools at the greatest climate risk.
Ms Howard Boyd said of the review she will be leading: “London needs to be climate ready.
“During 2022’s heatwave London hospitals had to cancel operations as systems crashed in the record-breaking heat. In 2021, flash flooding stopped people getting to work as roads and underground stations were inundated.
“London should be a global leader in climate security so we need to review its preparations for predictable impacts like storms, floods, droughts and heatwaves. A resilient and successful 21st century city must develop in ways that protect lives and livelihoods.
“This review is for all of London. Catastrophe is not inevitable but failure to prepare would be a disaster.”