London’s leafy streets and gardens have long been prized for their beauty — and more recently their ability to counteract carbon emissions and improve air quality. But the value of urban trees can also be measured with money. A new report from Britain’s Office of National Statistics estimates tree cover saved the capital more than 5 billion pounds ($6.56 billion) from 2014 to 2018 through air cooling alone. Additionally, by keeping summer temperatures bearable for workers, trees prevented productivity losses of almost 11 billion pounds.
The estimates underline just how vital the role trees play is in making cities comfortable and functional in a warming world — particularly in London. An unusually long, hot summer in 2018 pushed cost savings estimates to their highest level to date.