This blog is designed to highlight the diversity of views and news stories on urban energy topics that appear daily in the media. They are intended to provoke discussions on how cultural, geographic, political, and institutional influences shape the way energy markets operate and energy policies are made in cities around the world.
Saturday, August 09, 2008
100 days of Boris Johnson
New mayor 'backtracking' on London's environmental progress
Boris Johnson is making long-term decisions that are in danger of making London less green, environmental and social campaigners say, as the new mayor reaches 100 days in office.
The mayor had pledged to make London the greenest city in the world before the elections but London is rapidly losing its reputation for being at the cutting edge of dealing with environmental and social problems, said Darren Johnson, London assembly member.
"Dumping the £25 emissions-based congestion charge, scrapping probably the biggest purchase order for zero-emission vehicles in the world and abandoning the 50% affordable housing target are all evidence of a major backtrack," he said.
"Boris is adopting or considering a number of policies that are likely to increase London's carbon footprint. These include endorsing a 50% increase in flights from London city airport and considering a new airport in the Thames estuary," said Friends of the Earth's London campaigns coordinator, Jenny Bates.
"In addition, he has supported an extra river crossing downstream from Tower bridge to ease traffic congestion - which could lead to a rise in the number of vehicles on London's roads if this was a road crossing," she said.
Johnson's political opponents today criticised the mayor for not appointing any environmental experts to the board of the London Development Agency, a committee which oversees a budget of more than £650m a year.
"Despite recognising that climate change is one of the biggest threats facing London, Boris has failed to secure the team he needs to deliver on his promise to cut carbon emissions by 60% by 2025. This can only add to fears that he will seek to cut spending on climate change projects," said Jenny Jones, a green party London assembly member.
"By not appointing environmental experts ... [Johnson] is missing the chance to build on the good work already being done in London. There must now be very real concerns as to whether Boris has any plan or strategy to maintain London as a world leading sustainable city," she said.
Johnson's supporters responded by saying that the mayor's priorities for London were clear during the election campaign and have been reiterated regularly since May 1. He wants to "tackle crime, deliver value for money and improve the quality of life for all Londoners," said a spokesman for the Greater London Authority.
Opponents argue that it is already clear Johnson is overseeing a return to small government and cost-cutting, pointing to the findings of his Forensic Audit Commission, which called for more power to be handed to the boroughs.
"The real challenge facing London is how to get the capacity to invest and deliver on the huge multibillion pound projects from Crossrail and the Olympics to the rail extensions and Tube upgrades which this city needs to continue to grow and prosper," said one former City Hall figure.
"But they have appointed a team with expertise in downsizing and are talking about continuously about small government and cost-cutting. Quite simply they have got the wrong analysis of what London needs."