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London should commit to 'all-electric future'

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

Its report Powering ahead – fast track to an all-electric city found that London has the opportunity to transform itself into a global leader by committing to an all-electric future.

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

The report follows a WSP/ComRes poll that showed that one Londoner in four had seriously contemplated leaving the capital because of air and noise pollution.

Air quality was Londoners’ highest concern after crime and the cost of living. The most recent statistics suggest that 4,300 deaths were caused by air pollution in London each year, with the figure rising to 29,000 for the UK in total.

WSP associate Barny Evans said “The all-electric city would reduce carbon emissions and noise pollution while improving air quality significantly. It would be an attractive place to live and work, but we need to commit to this future now”.

WSP has produced a number of proposals to achieve its suggested goal:

  • All new houses and offices should 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; and
  • Create a London-wide ultra-low emission zone.

Mr 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 20 years to make this a reality.”

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