Report: electric heating and transport will save London’s environment

London’s air pollution could be reduced by over a third, carbon emissions cut by 80% and noise pollution reduced significantly, if it was to switch to only electric forms of heating and transportation by 2035, say consultants WSP.

The new report: “Powering ahead – fast track to an all-electric city” says that London, which was recently ranked as only the 38th most liveable city in global rankings, has the opportunity to transform itself from an air pollution laggard to a global leader by committing to an all-electric future.

It also says the all-electric city could transform streets blighted by traffic fumes and noise into enjoyable and healthier places to be. This would be achieved by moving to increasingly available electric vehicles and electric heating as existing equipment reaches the end of its life.

The report follows a WSP/ComRes poll that showed that one in four Londoners had seriously contemplated leaving the capital due to air and noise pollution. Air quality was also the highest concern of Londoners after crime and the cost of living. Most recent statistics suggest that 4,300 deaths are caused by air pollution in London each year, with the figure rising to 29,000 for the UK.

WSP associate Barny Evans said:

“The all-electric city will reduce carbon emissions and noise pollution whilst improving air quality significantly. It will be an attractive place to live and work but we need to commit to this future now”.

WSP has produced a number of proposals for London to become an all-electric city by 2035:

  • All new houses and offices to be built to use electric heating from 2018
  • Replace all gas boilers at the end of their life with heat pumps
  • Raise skill levels across the city so plumbers, electricians and architects have the skills needed to make the transformation to all electric
  • Create a London-wide electric vehicle hire scheme
  • Create a London-wide ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ)

Evans said:

“Many of the plans needed have begun – including measures to encourage energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. However, we are actually moving away from electric heating in some instances. We are missing an overall vision and clarity of purpose. If London and other cities committed to becoming all-electric by 2035 that would provide the direction to significantly improve our quality of life. We’ve got twenty years to make this a reality.”

WSP analysis suggests that London would reduce carbon emissions by the current total of Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and Leeds combined if it became all-electric by 2035.

Nick Molho, executive director at the Aldersgate Group said:

“This report is an important reminder that moving towards an efficient and low-carbon economy isn’t just about tackling climate change, it’s also about improving our local environment, our quality of life and reducing health costs. Moving towards a greater use of electricity in our heating and transport sector is important but significantly cutting carbon emissions across our power grid is also essential and should be a priority for the next Government”.