About the City of London


South East England, United Kingdom


8.2 million – Greater London Authority (2011)
14.6 million – outer metropolitan area  (2011)

Social composition

Highly diverse, including some of the most affluent and most deprived socio-economic groups in the UK. High levels of international and European migration. Spatial concentrations of more vulnerable groups including low income, young families and the elderly.
GDP/capita: US$51,978 (2012)1
Income distribution (GINI): 31.7 (2007)2

Geographical features

Located in the Thames Valley, much of the city is built on the river’s flood plain. The city spreads into surrounding low hills. Despite being around 50km inland, the Thames remains tidal in the city centre.

Climatic conditions

Maritime temperate climate (according to Koppen climate classification).
Average daily maximum temperature varies from 23o C in July to 8 o C in the coolest months of January and February.
Average annual rainfall is 590mm. Rainfall is reasonably evenly distributed throughout the year, with more rain generally falling in autumn/ early winter. Snow falls on average during 4 or 5 days per year between December and February.


Hazards & Vulnerabilities

Local climate hazards

Local vulnerabilities and main expected climate change impact

London has exposure to tidal, fluvial and surface water flooding. Also predicted increasing exposure to heat waves and drought, with much of the building stock poorly adapted for this potential change.
Climate projections to 2050 suggest warmer and drier summers, more very hot days, wetter winters and tidal surges of increasing height3.


Coping Mechanisms/ Adaptation measures

What is done on a political level? Adaptation plan?

The Greater London Authority published the London Climate Change Adaptation Strategy in 2011. The Strategy lists 34 actions organised by response to the key hazards of flooding, drought and overheating. Key actions include:

  • Improving understanding and management of surface water flood risk;
  • An urban greening programme to increase the quality and quantity of greenspace and vegetation in London as a buffer to floods and hot weather;
  • Retro-fitting up to 1.2m homes by 2015 to improve their water and energy efficiency4.

The United Kingdom Environment Agency has prepared the Thames Estuary 2100 Plan to identify an approach to managing tidal flood risk in London and the wider Thames Estuary

What adaptation measure is in place (physically)?

A major tidal surge flood in 1953 prompted the construction of the current Thames tidal defences- an integrated system comprising the Thames Barrier, 185 miles of floodwalls, 35 major gates and over 400 minor gates. The Thames Barrier, a large scale movable flood barrier, was completed in 1982. There are currently debates about the lifespan of this infrastructure in relation to potential sea-level rise.

What are the major adaptation needs

  • Managing water demand during drought.
  • Providing additional cooling in buildings and public transport infrastructure during heatwaves.
  • Managing parkland and biodiversity during droughts.
  • Managing air quality and related human health impacts during warmer summer days.
  • Managing insurance and mortgage risk of housing vulnerable to flooding.




1Brookings Institution (2012) ‘Global Metro Monitor’, Brookings analysis of data from Oxford Economics, Moody’s Analytics,
  and the U.S. Census Bureau. Available at:

2Dickey, H. (2007), Regional Earnings Inequality in Great Britain: evidence from quantile regressions. Journal of Regional Science, 47: 775–806.

3Greater London Authority (2011), Managing Risks and Increasing Resilience:
   the Mayor’s climate change adaptation strategy, p. 27. Available at:

4Greater London Authority (2011), Managing Risks and Increasing Resilience:
   the Mayor’s climate change adaptation strategy. Available at:


5UK Environment Agency (2009), Thames Estuary 2100 Plan. Available at:


Europe The work leading to these results has received funding from the European Community's Seventh Framework Programme under Grant Agreement No. 308497
Project RAMSES - Reconciling Adaptation, Mitigation and Sustainable Development for Cities.