Wondering how London is progressing on its climate action plans? This blog post will share an update on the Climate Emergency Screening Tool and provide a review of how this tool will be applied in London and an update on the Climate Emergency Action Plan timeline.

If you’re following the City of London’s Climate Emergency Action Plan development - you’ll remember in 2019 there was a list of projects that needed to be completed within 12 months. One of these projects was to develop a Climate Emergency Evaluation Tool (CEET). That commitment has been met with the drafted development of the now-called Climate Emergency Screening Tool (CEST) which can be found in the August 11th Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee (SPPC) report.

The Climate Emergency Screening Tool (CEST) is going to be used for the first time this fall October to December 2020 to evaluate major transportation projects. The revised timeline for the overall development of the Climate Emergency Action Plan is to have a final version ready for Council approval in May-June of 2021 (as seen below in revised timeline image).

The revised timeline for the CEAP. From March 2019 to June 2021

How the CEST works in practice:

The CEST isn’t intended to be a pass or fail tool, or to provide a grade on projects, it is meant to provide Council with more information on each project’s potential climate and biodiversity impacts. The idea is that then Councillors will be well informed on the short and long term climate and biodiversity risks associated with each project. They will be able to make more informed decisions on voting yes or no for a project with negative environmental impacts that further contribute to climate change.
See request by Council below regarding using CEST to screen transportation projects).

From Tool to Transportation Project Evaluation

A bar chart indicating total greenhouse gas emissions as of 2018 in London. Personal vehicles is the largest contributor.

Personal vehicle use is the largest contributor of greenhouse gases in London as of 2018 data. The capital carbon (carbon generated to create, construct and the end of life of the infrastructure) used in these projects is significant, as well as the ongoing carbon from road maintenance and the carbon emitted from cars on the road. It is therefore important for current and future transportation plans to be evaluated carefully by Councillors since the majority of transportation infrastructure plans are road building, widening or maintenance projects which contribute significantly to our emissions. 

In order for London to achieve the net-zero by 2050 target we have set, we need to be making changes today on our development and infrastructure decisions to reduce our emissions. Ideally the CEST tool will offer insight into ways to address, reduce or eliminate emissions from transportation infrastructure plans. Overall the vast majority of road projects contribute large amounts of carbon to our atmosphere, and it will be interesting to see how the CEST screens these types of infrastructure projects.

After CEST has been approved for usage ideally by December 2020, it will roll out into documents and reports to Council, as well as across City Hall departments to screen internal and external projects and policies starting in 2021. 

Get Involved:

Moving forward, keep your eyes peeled for the CEST paragraphs on reports, documents, projects and policies as this moves forward to see how much certain initiatives from the City will impact local climate emissions! There will also be an opportunity to review the City Budget annually using the CEST tool - which may change some spending allocations.

Contact your Councillor to let them know you are excited about the Climate Emergency Screening Tool (CEST) and the potential positive impacts on reducing carbon emissions in London. You can also say you'd be interested in more cycling or public transit infrastructure, as opposed to road projects for cars. Feel free to reduce your own emissions as well by walking, biking and busing around the city.

For a full summary of the CEST and the current state of the Climate Emergency Action Plan, read the report and minutes from the August 11th SPPC meeting here. If you’d like to provide feedback on the Climate Emergency Action Plan, please click here. 

Skylar Franke


Executive Director at London Environmental Network