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Date updated: 11/11/2021

The climate is changing; with hotter, drier summers, warmer, wetter winters, increased extreme weather events and rising sea levels. Causing further flooding, prolonged heatwaves and increasing chances of serious drought, damaging biodiversity and disrupting the transport and infrastructure we use everyday.

The City of London Corporation is preparing for these changes and working to make the Square Mile more resilient to the impacts of the climate risks facing London.

We are enacting and piloting a variety of measures to mitigate for these impacts in the Square Mile. This is to ensure that the City of London will be resilient to the effects of climate change, whether this be increased temperatures and rainfall, rising sea levels or changing biodiversity.

The City Corporation have identified the following six climate risks for the Square Mile:

It is anticipated that the City will experience a change in both the frequency, intensity and season variability of rainfall in the future. This will put pressure on our drainage system. As the Lead Local Flood Authority for the Square Mile we're requiring new developments to include sustainable drainage system which will slow down the flow of water. 

Our stretch of Thames is tidal and will be effected by raising sea levels. The City is currently protected by its river defences and the Thames Barrier downstream. We are beginning to review how we can maintain and improve this going forward.

You can find our more about flooding and the work of the Lead Local Flood Authority on our Flooding page. 

Increasing average temperatures will have an even greater impact on the City of London due to the urban heat island effect. This is because buildings and roads absorb and hold heat during the day, reducing the ability to cool at night. When these features are close together as in the City it results in a higher temperature compared to surrounding greener areas.

The counter act the impact of the urban heat island effect we're encouraging more greening in the Square Mile. New developments are required to provide planted areas and solar shading.This has the added benefit that it will reduce the amount of energy needed to provide cooling as well. 

Climatic changes in rainfall will impact London's capacity to supply its water demand resulting in drought. Droughts are expected to get longer and occur more frequently, with more than double the number days of drought predicted in 2050 compared to 2020.

Climatic changes fundamentally alter natural trends causing decline and loss within ecosystems. This can include disruption to pollination systems, carbon storage capacity and our dependence on landscapes and wildlife for personal well being. With only 13.1% of the Square Mile made up of green or blue infrastructure,the consequences of this risk may be localised. However, without action a lack of connectivity is likely to hasten species decline, while posing as a barrier to new species colonisation,resulting in the potential for a net loss of biodiversity. The City's Biodiversity Action Plan is seeking to not just improve the current situation, but to ensure that it will be fit for the future as well. This will be especially important as we look to nature to provide solutions for flooding, air quality, shading and others. 

Many of the other climate risks will contribute to disruption to food production on a domestic and international scale. With weather-related impacts, geopolitical changes and altered climatic conditions will likely negatively impact the production of food, with knock on impacts on trade. The City of London is heavily dependent on local and international food imports, which means that food supply vulnerability will be a critical resilience issue for the Square Mile.

Changing seasonal conditions and global patterns will influence the spread of new and emerging diseases, while pests and invasive non-native species may also increase in number and range in a warmer, wetter atmosphere. The City with its high density of people and dense infrastructural systems, makes the likelihood and consequences of disease outbreaks particularly acute. The Urban Heat Island Effect, complex and international movement of people and trade, variety of available habitats all make the introduction of non native invasive more likely. Some disease show climate sensitivity with seasonal variation seen in gastro-intestinal infections like salmonella (infection rates increase 10% per degree over 6oC. 

As part of the Climate Action Strategy the City Corporation is piloting a number of resilient measures in our buildings, open spaces and public places. Including programmes on cool streets and greening, building retrofit and mainstreaming climate resilience. 

This work has been informed by an Adaptive Pathways Study undertaken with Buro Happold, this included a climate risk assessment, an identified possible measures and triggers for when measures needed to be implemented to be effective.

We also taking steps to reduce our impact on the drivers of climate change, you can find out more on our Climate Action Strategy page.