Is London becoming a more sustainable city? 

This is the question we were asked by the London Sustainable Development Commission earlier this year, when they commissioned us to produce their 2017 Quality of Life Indicators Report.

The report uses a set of 32 ‘quality of life’ indicators to measure London’s progress on key areas of sustainable development.

Its purpose is to provide a snapshot of London’s quality of life and to identify how sustainably London is developing. It provides baseline data that will inform the Commission’s future work programme and the advice they provide to the Mayor. It also provides a benchmark for the new Mayor and a review of the issue of quality of life in the round.

The findings build on the 2012 Quality of Life Indicators Report, which we also produced for the Commission.

Overall, the direction of travel for many of the indicators in the 2017 QoL set is positive. For example, London’s public transport mode share has increased from one of the lowest in comparable European cities in 1995, to higher than Stockholm, Paris, Brussels and Berlin in 2012.  And London continues to be an economic powerhouse; gross value added per head for London in 2015 was more than 70 per cent higher than for the UK as a whole or any other region.

But we also found that challenges remain.

CO2 emissions have fallen, for example, but significant reductions are still required if London is to meet the Mayor’s 2050 zero carbon ambition. And London has continued to breach legal NO2 concentration limits, despite a trend of falling NOx emissions.

Another startling theme was the sharp inequalities that persist in London. For example, between 2011 and 2016, buying a house in London became 40 per cent less affordable. Nearly two in five children are living in poverty.  And around a quarter of private rented housing fails to meet decent housing standards.

We will be producing further posts in the new year about the findings from this research.

And keep an eye out too for an exciting event we are planning about London’s contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals

You can read the summary findings from the research here.

And the full evidence report can be accessed here.

Dec 20, 2017