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Electric future will make London a healthier place, says report

Words: Laura Edgar

If London made the switch to electric heating and forms of transport only by 2035, London’s air pollution could decrease by more than a third, says a report by consultant WSP.

Powering ahead – fast track to an all-electric city (pdf) explains that if London was all-electric, which would be achieved through the use of increasingly available electric vehicles and heating, the streets would be a much healthier place to be, given the reduction in traffic fumes and noise.

The report follows a poll by WSP and ComRes that revealed one in four people living in London had considered leaving the capital because of the noise and air pollution. Air quality was their highest concern after crime and the cost of living.

Most recent statistics suggest that 4,300 deaths are caused by air pollution in London each year.

WSP’s prposals for the government to switch to all electric by 2035:

· New houses to be to use electric heating from 2018

· Gas boilers to be replaced at the end of their life with heat pumps

· Skills levels need to be raised so that plumbers, electricians and architects are able to make the transformation to all-electric

· Implement a London-wide electric vehicle hire scheme

· Create an ultra-low emission zone

WSP associate Barny Evans explained that if London was an all-electric city, the reduction in carbon emissions and noise pollution would improve the air quality significantly.

“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 20 years to make this a reality,” he concluded.

If London did reduce its carbon emissions by 2035, the reduction would total the emissions produced Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and Leeds.

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.”

Image courtesy of WPS