Tuesday, 6 January 2015
Boris Johnson's London budget is a climate disaster
The Mayor’s policies are probably causing more greenhouse gas emissions than he is saving.
City Hall under both Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson has rightly been praised for its climate change strategies. But under Boris, delivery has fallen back year after year, and the London Assembly has raised fears that his budget for the coming year will fall further still.
In July the Assembly’s Environment Committee gave the Mayor four out of 10 for his delivery in a damning report. The chair ended his foreword on a hopeful note: “let us see if the Mayor is prepared to take up the challenge again with less than two years left on his mandate from Londoners”.
The Mayor’s budget for the next financial year quashes that hope.
His programme to refurbish public sector buildings, called RE:FIT, has been a great success. But underfunded, it will only deliver 45 per cent of the carbon savings required by his climate change mitigation strategy over seven years from 2009-16.
His home refurbishment programme has been an abysmal failure due to a lack of funding from City Hall and local councils, and the disastrous national government policies. He only expects to deliver 24 per cent of the target over the same seven years.
His energy programmes have become worryingly modest. London has fallen from the heady heights of 2006, when Greenpeace and Ken issued a joint report calling for a decentralised energy revolution in London. Now he only expects to deliver 9 per cent of the target for low carbon energy between 2010 and 2021.
All of these come after years of worsening performance, leaving a growing gap between his ambitions and delivery and adds up to a huge shortfall for 2015-16.
But it gets worse. The Mayor’s other policies are probably causing far more greenhouse gas emissions than he is saving with these hobbled programmes.
London & Partners, his international promotion agency, has more or less avoided cuts and will get £11.4m in the next year. Using the Mayor’s estimates of the extra tourists they bring to London, I’ve estimated that their travel could create another 1,000,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year.
Even good programmes have impacts that we can’t ignore. We absolutely must build more social housing, but construction needs materials, transport and on-site machinery which all cause greenhouse gas emissions. His not-very-affordable housing programme will be responsible for around 800,000 tonnes per year.
These two combined will cause, in just one year, almost forty times the emissions that his climate change programmes will save.
Then there is his transport business plan, which includes spending £28 billion in the coming decades on increasing road capacity. After a decade of falling traffic levels – a startling success when the population and economy both grew – his policies saw traffic grow last year by 3 per cent, increasing greenhouse gas emissions and deadly air pollution.
The Mayor needs to radically change his budget and his priorities if he is to take the challenge of climate change seriously in his remaining years in office.
Jenny Jones is a member of the London Assembly for the Green Party
First published at Left Foot Forward