Today’s Guardian has a detailed account of Boris Johnson’s announcement yesterday of the strategy London will take in tackling climate change:

"An increase in the number of rooftop gardens to soak up rainwater across the capital is among a series of measures suggested by Johnson yesterday…

"The mayor’s adaptation strategy, billed as a world first, aims to address the challenges of flooding, extreme temperatures and drought. It calls for compulsory water metering, greater awareness of flood risks and more tree planting, alongside stronger efforts to resist attempts by local authorities and insurance companies to fell existing urban trees."

The article lists the key points of the plan:

On flooding

  • Citywide urban greening programme based on green spaces and trees to soak up water
  • Campaign to raise public awareness of flood risk
  • Identify and protect critical infrastructure and vulnerable communities

On drought

  • Reduce leakage from water mains
  • Compulsory water metering where feasible
  • Rainwater harvesting and ‘grey water’ use

On heatwaves

  • Enhanced access to air-cooled buildings for London’s vulnerable people
  • Specific guidance to architects
  • Requirement for new developments to help cool the city

Mayor Johnson explains his commitment in terms of a genuine change of mind:

"Despite previously attacking the Kyoto Protocol – which regulates international carbon emissions – as "pointless" and saying that anxiety over climate change was "partly a religious phenomenon" Johnson now admits that the 2006 Stern review on the issue had convinced him of the need to act. "When the facts change, you change your mind," he said."

The 2006 Stern review met with much scepticism from experts who noted that if Stern’s proposals were implemented now, most of the benefits would not be seen until after the year 2800. The Yale economist William Nordhaus calculated that while inaction on global warming would reduce global GDP by $22 trillion over the next century, Sir Nicholas Stern’s proposals – if implemented in full – would see global GDP reduced by $36 trillion.

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