Politics Show London
London consumes as much electricity as Portugal or Ireland. But despite its mammoth consumption it lags behind the rest of the country as a city using the least renewable energy.
Integrated solar fascia and glass on a London building
As both the Prime Minister, and events around the world have made clear this summer, climate change is here to stay and dramatic changes are needed if we are to cope with it.
In London the effects of climate change can be seen in increased rainfall and flash flooding.
Rises in sea levels and rainwater run-off have contributed to the number of times the Thames Barrier has to close.
While it was designed to close three or four times a year; in January 2003 it closed an incredible 19 times.
A greener city?
London does not lend itself well to renewables.
With wind and hydro power the favourites, the tall buildings of our land locked capital mean neither source is particularly suitable.
Ford in Dagenham, however, is erecting three 120m turbines to power its car plant and there are plans to experiment with turbines on top of tower blocks to harness wind power.
Essentially solar power is the best option for London and many people have fitted solar panels to their homes and businesses.
The difficulty is getting developers to incorporate renewable sources as standard in new buildings.
Waste is the problem for Nuclear power
At a regional level, renewable energy has been an important issue for the Mayor, Assembly and the London boroughs.
Planning legislation is being used effectively to make new commercial developments source 10% of their power on-site from renewable sources.
And moves are now afoot to ensure this happens with new residential developments in London too.
London Renewables in acting on targets set by the capital's Energy Strategy and Mayor Ken Livingstone's London Plan.
Chair of the group Samantha Heath says they have found there is plenty of public support for and awareness of renewable energy, the hard part is implementing it.
London Renewables has pulled together training for boroughs, developers, housing associations, builders, skilled workers and even estate agents, to ensure they know what part they must play and how to go about it.
But is change backed up by government rhetoric?
Under the Kyoto protocol, the UK Government has agreed to a 60% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050.
Within those parameters London has its own targets for carbon reduction:
- the delivery of up to 40,000 renewable energy installations by 2010
- and the reduction of London's carbon dioxide emissions by 23% by 2016
Unless the Government, local planning authorities and the public throw their weight behind renewable energy, there is little incentive to invest in it short term.
And this week Tony Blair has suggested that while he supports greater reliance on wind and solar power, he has not ruled out more use of nuclear power in the future, something which has been scaled down in recent years.
Environmental campaigners fear that significant investment in nuclear power now will divert money that could have been spent on renewable sources - the only answer, they claim, for a sustainable future.
Politics Show London
Tim Donovan and the Politics Show London team return for a new series this Sunday on BBC1 at the new time of 12.30pm.
So what are your views on this issue? Let Politics Show London know what you think. That is Politics Show, Sunday 19 September, at 12.30pm.
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