This page is one of a number that explores how urban change has created challenges in London.

What problems does London have with pollution?

How serious is the problem of air pollution in London?

Air pollution in London

Air pollution in London

Pollution in London is less of a problem than in the past, but it remains an issue. In the mid-twentieth century, the city suffered from smog caused by burning coal for energy. Today, the primary sources of air pollution are emissions from road vehicles and modern heating systems, compounded by the city’s dense road network and tall buildings that trap air. Compared to other European cities, London’s pollution record is worse, though not as severe as many Asian cities. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a harmful pollutant primarily produced by road vehicles and diesel engines, is a significant problem, with most of central London exceeding safe limits (40mg/m3 for NO2). As a result, over 4,000 people die prematurely in London each year due to long-term exposure to air pollution.

How will new cycle highways help?

The upcoming cycle superhighways in London are designed to provide swift paths for cyclists along major roads, promote cycling, decrease traffic, and lower harmful vehicle emissions. Over the past five decades, the number of cyclists on London’s roads has risen from 1% to 15% of all road users. Implementing the new cycle superhighways is expected to boost this percentage even further.

What happens to London’s waste?

Currently, nearly a quarter of London’s waste is still disposed of in landfills outside of the city, which was previously deemed acceptable since it was out of sight and out of mind. However, it is now understood that landfill waste contributes to broader environmental issues, such as the production of methane which adds to greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, treating waste as garbage wastes potentially valuable resources. To combat this, London is working towards reducing waste and managing resources more efficiently to achieve the target of sending zero waste to landfills by 2030. This will be achieved by increasing recycling rates to recycle 65% of waste by 2030, surpassing the 52% achieved in 2016. The remaining waste will mostly be incinerated or burned to generate electricity.

Related Topics

Use the images below to explore related GeoTopics.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This