Sustainability in London – a look at the future

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We recently spoke to Samantha Heath, Director of LSx, to get her thoughts on a sustainable London. The London Sustainability Exchange partners with business, government, communities & the voluntary sector, to accelerate the transition to a sustainable London by connecting & motivating people.

Samantha has been advocating about the impact of now very common lifestyle choices, like next day delivery on our environment. When looking at deliveries as a service, the public should consider and also be encouraged to consider click and collect and bulk deliveries as options. Supermarkets and retailers can educate their customers, like John Lewis showing is doing in advising customers that click and collect is the more sustainable solution. Samantha also wishes for the government to set cleared guidelines and regulate businesses more effectively.

Thinking slow when it comes to deliveries means, that we evaluate if it is strictly necessary for every item to be delivered tomorrow or if it can wait until more items can be ordered together, or alternatively if we as consumers can make the effort to click and collect.

We asked Samantha for any examples of sustainable thinking in big distributors or retail chains and Samantha mentioned the Cross River Partnership and their exciting work on click and collect, encouraging people not to spread their deliveries out, but have them go to a collection point (see https://clickcollect.london/)  The Cross River Partnership collaborates with businesses of all sizes, supporting them to reduce their deliveries thereby improving the air quality in London while also improving efficiency.

Samantha mentioned to us that, thanks to fleet managers taking telematics more seriously, deliveries are becoming more efficient and drivers can be checked on the fuel efficiency of their driving. Companies can save on average 10% – 15% on fuel costs thanks to efficient driving.

Samantha reminds us that we can make decisions on what to purchase and should be thinking slow.

In 2016 LSx collaborated with Addison Lee and six of their experiences professional drivers, to identify challenges in the drivers behaviour and the relationship to pollution causes and pollution-reducing driving behaviours. They conducted a qualitative focus group with six ‘Galaxy’ drivers from the private hire company, to gain insight on driving behaviours, experience, concerns and perceptions of driving. If was hoped that by working with experienced professional drivers, insights can be applied to the wider driving-public.

The biggest motivator identified for eco driving was saving money by saving fuel, while some of the challenges that lead to inefficient driving were late customers, no parking space, the recommended use of air conditioning and counterproductive traffic lights leading to continuous stop and go.

The research identified the need to better communicate driving and road safety measures to the wider public and the recommendation was to develop a targeted toolkit applying behavioural segmentation and a social marketing approach to communicate appropriate messages to the full range of road users.

Samantha reminds us that we can make decisions on what to purchase and should be thinking slow: don’t buy a car, use public transport or a car share. Don’t’ buy a stove that burns smoky fuel, get a new boiler that is low in NO2 instead.

The Clean Air Zones on the other hand will need to be rigorously applied on order to be effective.

We asked Samantha about the common misconceptions that she comes across in her work and she mentions that the public often confused climate change and pollution – they begin to think that planting a few trees will make the pollution better and dramatically ameliorate the impact of climate change. This is however just part of the solution.

The director of LSx believes that we need stronger regulation and better incentives in order to support and drive change.

Better information is very important to ensure that people are clearer about the action that they need to take. She had hoped that the cleaner growth Strategy would have had more information about how Innovate UK will support and incentivize in developing a stronger future plan.

The Clean Air Zones on the other hand will need to be rigorously applied on order to be effective.

Ms. Heath encourages the public to demand more from politicians and more from business as the government has a long way to go in a clean air strategy and a clean growth strategy for London and the whole of the UK including rural areas.

Looking at the next five- ten years Samantha expects important technological and societal changes, that should go hand in hand with more regulations for businesses.  She also expects more deliveries, which should be an opportunity to regulate businesses more effectively.

Looking ahead even further we asked Samantha how she expects London to change by 2050.  Samantha imagines that we are not going to be using shops so much, and most goods and services will be delivered. New fuels, the hydrogen economy and renewables should be the norm by then.

She refers us to collaboration and study between Foster & Partner  and Nissan on how autonomous vehicles can supply renewable energy.  The collaboration, carried out over of a 12-month period, offers a snapshot of what’s to come from Nissan’s vision for Intelligent Mobility; a world in which cars interact with their environment as populations adopt zero emission. The concept explores how our urban environments and ways of living might change as technology develops.

Incorporating a range of pioneering Nissan technologies, the vision hints at how vehicle-to-grid, battery storage, wireless charging, autonomous drive technology and over-the-air connectivity could combine to revolutionise how energy is used and distributed across Europe’s major cities.

Nissan states that by 2050, seven out of every 10 people will live in urban areas, and predicted that almost all global energy needs could be met with renewable energy by this point.

Therefore, improved infrastructure for both cars and renewable energy systems needs to exist to support this, said Nissan.

 

Nissan is currently trialling an innovative Vehicle-to-Grid system in Europe which, when coupled with advances in its second-life batteries, will allow drivers to operate as individual ‘energy hubs’ able to store, use or return clean energy to the grid. The project offers an interesting look at a sustainable future where technology interacts with our environment, focusing on solutions for sustainable energy.

We would like to thank Samantha Heath for her thoughts on a sustainable London. For our other article about the LSx’s work in the communities read here

Images courtesy of Foster + Partners

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