London Should Adopt More Renewables

The capital city of England should enact policies that encourage greater use of renewable energy in London, according to a report commissioned by the Mayor.

LONDON, England – One hundred recommendations were tabled last month by Darren Johnson, Chair of the Mayor’s Environment Commission. The Commission was set up by Mayor Ken Livingstone to develop his manifesto into a policy, strategy and action program for the next four years and a ten year vision for London. The report looks at how the GLA can best deliver sustainable development through the development of five environmental strategies for energy, waste, air quality, noise and biodiversity. The Mayor’s policies and strategies should encourage greater use of renewable energy, capitalising on the potential economies of scale achievable in London, and he should use his powers to substantially increase the use of renewable energy in London beyond national targets, says the report. The Mayor should also use his influence to promote national legislation and new financial instruments to develop renewable energy. “This report makes radical recommendations to improve the environment in the capital,” says Johnson. “I want to see London making a contribution to reducing greenhouse gases that cause climate change and, as a first step, to initiate a study on the impact it will make on London.” “Because of fears about the effects of climate change, we also advocate areas most at risk from flooding should be protected from inappropriate new building,” he adds. “We want to look at the construction of new buildings in the capital and promote zero energy developments, buildings that operate with maximum energy efficiency and do not contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.” The report calls for ambitious targets of at least 50 percent for office paper recycling as well as the setting of targets to compost London’s organic waste and return it to soil. There should be a strategic network of aggregate recycling schemes and a tonnage-based waste disposal levy system, as well as investigation into the health impacts of incineration. On transport and air quality, new building developments must encourage the viability of shops, public services, recreation and other facilities within walking distance of homes or a short journey by cycle or bus to contribute to reducing car journeys with bicycle rental facilities available at main stations. It recommends that the Mayor should apply congestion charges, investigate the benefits of implementing a Low Emission Zone as part of his Transport and Air Quality strategies and urgently develop a program facilitating cycle routes and encouraging car pooling or taxi-sharing schemes. “With a strong emphasis on the environment in the Mayor’s obligatory strategies and a legal requirement that each of the strategies be consistent with the principles of sustainable development, London has a real opportunity to lead on sustainability,” says the report. The Commission was tasked to consider the main environmental issues facing Londoners and to consider how the GLA could raise public awareness of environmental issues. “Climate change poses a major challenge to London’s environment and economy,” it adds. “Reducing London’s dependence on fossil fuel energy should therefore be central to the Mayor’s vision.” “We welcome the Mayor’s commitment to policies which will substantially reduce London’s contribution to global warming and climate change by making a 20 percent cut in carbon dioxide emissions from 1990 levels by 2010,” it continues. “He should initiate a climate change impact assessment for London as a matter of urgency.” Standards should be imposed for new developments to minimize energy use, and there should be guidelines for the building industry on energy efficiency and sustainability as a basis for all new developments in the city. The Mayor should advocate restoration and refurbishment of buildings to introduce energy saving measures into older properties, and energy policies should facilitate greater equity in use of energy and reduce energy poverty The Mayor should work in partnership to educate Londoners on energy efficiency, and to assist people on low incomes to undertake energy conservation measures, and he should promote new legislation to make it compulsory to introduce energy efficiency in private rented accommodation and commercial property.

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