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Current mayor says more ambitious targets are needed for heat pump installation and building efficiency improvements across the capital, based on new climate change analysis

Mayor Of London Sadiq Khan has outlined a range of stricter environmental ambitions for the city to try and improve how buildings are heated and insulated. These changes will be required to help ensure London can better meet ambitions to become net zero carbon city by 2030, according to Mr Khan.

The proposals are set out in a study by the Element Energy consultancy looking at how Londoners most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change – specifically non-white people and low-income households – can be better protected.

Part of this strategy will include insulating homes to reduce energy costs for functions such as heating.

The mayor stated, “The fuel costs of powering and heating our buildings and running our cars and transport systems currently costs London around £11.1 billion per year. According to Element Energy, by 2030 that cost could be £6.2 billion, or 44 per cent less, if we properly insulate our homes and make active travel, public transport and electric vehicles the norm for all Londoners.”

Efforts to better insulate homes are expected to require a significant amount of skilled individuals to transform existing housing stock.  The new report estimated that 56,000 extra jobs will be needed by 2025 for insulating homes and installing heat pumps, district heating, or other energy management solutions.

The mayor has pledged to use his control of an adult skills budge to try and ensure training to create a workforce able to deliver more efficient heating.

The mayor’s response to the Element Energy findings, which he commissioned is that a significant increase was needed in the levels and pace of work to retrofit buildings along with the introduction of technologies that can support lower carbon heat.

Under the revised targets set out in the report, which the mayor has backed, overall heat demand in London’s buildings must be cut by 40 per cent. This would need 200,000 homes to be effectively retrofitted each year.  At the same time, 2.2 million heat pumps would need to be in operation across the city by 2030.

Heat networks are also cited as a technology that can help decarbonise heating under the new environmental targets.

Energy Element noted this would be a change from the previous London climate plan that was devised to limit changes in average global temperatures by no more than 1.5 deg C of pre-industrial levels.  This 1.5 deg C strategy concluded that 160,000 homes would need to be retrofitted annually from the mid-2020s.  900,000 heat pumps would then need to be installed by 2030 under this older plan.

The mayor has called the conclusions of the Element Energy report a wakeup call on the need for the UK Government to ensure sufficient support to aid London and the UK meets decarbonisation targets.

Funding commitments

The Mayor of London’s Office noted that total funding of around £12bn was being provided nationally to introduce lower carbon initiatives and technologies such as heat pumps and district heat systems.

It added, “Additionally, the UK Infrastructure Bank has up to £12 billion of finance to support levelling up and climate change and a further £10 billion available as guarantees. Assuming those commitments are maintained over the decade we have estimated that it could total just under £50 billion by 2030. A fair share of that funding and finance would equate to just under £7 billion for London across the decade.”

The mayor’s response to the findings added that he hoped to see funding recommendations from the Climate Change Committee being honoured by the UK Government and other authorities to support the city’s ambitions.

It stated, “But even if London were to secure its fair share of the overall UK investment that the CCC says is needed to deliver the UK’s 2050 target, then an additional estimated £27 billion would be needed to deliver London’s more ambitious 2030 target. This will need to be primarily secured through private finance and capital investment across the decade. The Mayor’s Energy Efficiency Fund (MEEF) is currently supporting investments into London energy efficiency projects.”

An estimated £310m of funds have already been provided under the MEEF scheme for energy efficiency projects in London.  However, the mayor’s office said it would also be looking at other ways of encouraging private sector investment that could include creating a so-called ‘London Climate Finance Facility’ in order to boost investment.

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