Boris gets low grade on London Environment Committee report card

The London Assembly Environment Committee's 'report card', released today (July 25), awarded Mayor Boris Johnson a 4/10 on his progress to reduce London's carbon emissions and improve energy efficiency - a clear 'could do more'.

The committee expected the Mayor’s RE:NEW programme for retrofitting London’s buildings to fall behind schedule. It estimated that at current rates the 1.2m milestone of homes retrofitted for 2015 would not be reached until at least 2017, awarding the Mayor’s progress a score of 3/10.

It also criticised the Mayor on decentralising the capital’s energy supply, expecting London to miss its target for decentralised generation by 2015. London has reached 2.9% in decentralised energy capacity, some way off the required 5.6% 2015 milestone.

The report called for a clear plan for generating 25% decentralised energy by 2025 and also recommended Mayoral support for community-led renewables and small-scale solar schemes.

However, the Mayor’s progress on ensuring efficient energy use in new buildings scored 8/10, with London set to exceed its 2010 Building Regulations target after 36% of new buildings in 2012 met the energy-efficiency standard, close to the 40% target for 2013/14.

The report also awarded the Mayor a 6/10 on transport emissions, due to policies aimed at reducing vehicle emissions, such as encouraging cycling. London’s traffic levels in 2012 were 11% lower than in 2000, however, the report stated that there were indications that traffic levels had increased in 2013 and that the growing trend of cycling had stalled.

One significant suggestion in the report was for the London Underground, the biggest energy consumer in the city, to move to low-carbon and renewable energy sources. It recommended that Transport for London should set out a plan to invest in its own low-carbon energy capacity and reduce its exposure to energy price volatility, as the Tube currently purchases most of its energy from national suppliers.

Must try harder

Environment Committee deputy chair Murad Qureshi said: “Frankly, the committee is disappointed with the progress being made on carbon reduction targets. The Mayor is missing targets on emissions from homes, decentralised energy generation and retrofitting workplaces, by big margins.

“The Mayor must try harder at these subjects, get more out of the government and give more help to boroughs. Transport emissions are fairly close to their 2015 target – but we urge Transport for London (TfL) – the capital’s biggest energy consumer – to take proactive action and negotiate more vigorously for low-carbon energy. TfL could also generate more of its own electricity.”

Boris Johnson has committed to reducing London’s carbon emissions by 60% by 2025, though this report shows mixed progress and suggests that significant progress is needed to meet the city’s long term energy ambitions.

Earlier this month, London was criticised for high levels of traffic pollution, with harmful nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels expected to significantly exceeded EU limits until 2030. Oxford street was also singled out this month for having some of the worst annual average levels of NO2 pollution in the world. The Mayor took to twitter, calling the findings: “B*ll*cks: ludicrous urban myth.”

Matt Field

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