Hundreds of schools, hospitals and tube stations in London are at risk of flooding or overheating as the climate crisis accelerates and global temperatures continue to rise, according to a study.
The report, commissioned by the Green party on the London Assembly, paints a bleak picture of life in the capital as global temperatures increase by 1.5C above pre-industrial levels – a conservative estimate based on current projections.
The study is one of the first to chart the likely impacts of the crisis and comes amid growing pressure on politicians to take radical action.
Earlier this month 1,000 people were arrested during the country’s biggest civil disobedience protests in generations aimed at highlighting the climate crisis. On Wednesday, parliament will vote on whether the UK should follow the example of Scotland, Wales, the Labour party and scores of councils and declare a climate emergency.
Caroline Russell, GreenLondon assembly member who commissioned the report, said it represented the start of a process of “telling the truth” about the impacts of the climate crisis on day to day life in the capital.
“Many of the real risks and challenges London, and Londoners, will face on a hotter planet are set out,” she said. “But it also shows significant areas where more research is needed because we just don’t know what other effects climate breakdown will bring.”
The report found:
- Half of the underground stations in central London will be “at significant risk of flooding” with the Northern and Central lines most affected.
- One in five schools in the capital will face a high-risk of flooding.
- Two-thirds of London flats will face extreme overheating by the 2030s.
- London is the most vulnerable city in western Europe to floods, extreme cold, windstorms and drought as global temperatures rise.
Russell said: “Anyone who commuted through last summer’s heatwave will know how unpleasant that was – these will be normal summers in the next couple of decades. What will that mean for schools, teachers, and schoolchildren during the struggle to stay cool?”
She added: “London is an ancient city, and its buildings weren’t designed to keep us cool – and the Victorian infrastructure of our sewers and plumbing just wasn’t constructed with extreme weather events in mind.”
The report gathered existing evidence from key sectors including housing, transport, emergency services, utilities, and workplaces and schools.
But Russell said it was far from complete as “crucial information” was not available and she called on the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, to work with her to address the urgent issues raised.
“The time for action is now. I urge the mayor to tell the whole truth about climate change and fill the gaps this research has shown, so we can know all the risks Londoners face. He must prepare for these huge changes, London needs to be ready.”