Green vision for London outlined

In what was billed as the most important document of his administration, Ken Livingstone has spoken of his intention to step up London's fight against climate change.

Launching his Climate Change Action Plan, Action Today to Protect Tomorrow, the Mayor outlined four programmes which would underpin his vision of slashing London’s carbon emissions are therefore its contribution to climate change.

The plan, which was endorsed on Tuesday by the Green Party’s principal speaker Sian Berry, aims for a target which eclipses those set nationally, asking the city to reduce its carbon emissions by 60% by 2025.

Over the coming three years the plan will see £78 million of the Greater London Authority’s existing funds ‘reprioritised’ to help reduce emissions.

The four programmes will focus on homes, organisations, energy and transport.

The homes programme will encourage householders to make their homes more efficient by taking steps to use energy more sensibly and, where possible, improve insulation or roofs and walls.

Grants will be available to make insulation free for those on benefits and a more attractive prospect to those who can afford to foot part of the bill themselves.

Organisations across the public and private sectors will be encouraged to improve their energy efficiency, with advice on saving electricity and money.

Mr Livingstone said he expected most forward-thinking businesses to adopt these measures with little or interference from City Hall as they were in their own best interests but accepted there would be a number of companies which might need persuasion.

The energy programme is particularly innovative, with the ambitious aim of meeting a quarter of the capital’s energy demands with off-grid energy, primarily from combined heat and power plants, by 2025.

The transport programme would continue the current drive of trying to persuade people to use public transport or more fuel efficient cars with a mix of financial incentives and public information campaigns.

As a hint of what was to come the press were told that if, for example, everyone bought the most fuel efficient version of the car they wanted, emissions from road transport would be cut by 30%.

The mayor acknowledged that, although a major city, London’s own environmental impact was minimal on a global scale and its efforts alone might have little impact.

But, he argued, the world was watching and if efforts made here were shown to succeed they would likely be adopted by other cities keen to reduce their own carbon footprints.

A behavioural shift across the city, not a sacrifice, was what was needed to make real improvements, he said.

“Londoners don’t have to reduce their quality of life to tackle climate change, but we do need to change the way we live,” he said.

“The present model of high energy production and high energy waste is utterly inefficient.

“By making London more carbon efficient we will cut emissions and put money back in Londoners’ pockets.”

Quizzed on whether these plans would, if executed, make London the greenest city in the world Mr Livingstone accepted that they would not, as many smaller cities in northern Europe had a huge head start along the road to sustainability and a smaller problem to address at the outset.

But he did argue it would make London the greenest of the ‘world cities’ – the mega-cities with huge populations and an international reputation.

“The actions set out in this plan are radical, the most comprehensive for any city I know,” he said.

“It is completely inadequate to simply talk about climate change or make purely token actions. This plan is the beginning of a comprehensive programme to tackle climate change in London in the next twenty years.”

Nicky Gavron, deputy mayor and head of London’s Climate Change Agency, said that cities were responsible for a disproportionately large share of the world’s carbon emissions so it was important for large urban centres to get things right.

“By 2030 two thirds of humanity will live in cities and half already does,” she said.

“So if you don’t reverse the trends in cities then you don’t save the world.”

  • Mr Livingstone chose the action plan as the launchpad for his edie blog which will continue to give our users an inside track on City Hall’s plans for the capital’s environment.

    Sam Bond

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