What is London Doing?

When Sadiq Khan was elected as Mayor of London in May 2016 he took over high level policies aimed at countering both Climate Change and Air Pollution. eg:

  • For climate change: Policy 5.1The Mayor seeks to achieve an overall reduction in London’s carbon dioxide emissions of 60 per cent (below 1990 levels) by 2025. “
  • For air pollution: Policy 7.14 7.47 “The Mayor is committed to working towards meeting the EU limit values of fine particulate matter (PM10) by 2011 and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) by 2015.” (This had not been achieved by 2015 and was the subject of legal action)

But Sadiq Khan had committed to more ambitious actions in ‘A Greener Cleaner London during his election campaign eg

  • Set a target for London to become a zero-carbon city by 2050 – this means running on 100% carbon free sources.”
  • Consult on bringing forward the Ultra-Low Emission Zone and expanding it along major arterial routes or a wider section of central London.”

The twin dangers of Global Warming and Air Pollution are both caused by the burning of fossil fuels for transport, heating and electricity. So moving away from petrol/diesel transport, gas fuelled boilers and electricity from coal, oil and gas is the urgent challenge for London.

Current dangers and future dangers

The most dramatic effect of Climate Change on London is that of flooding, and the Mayor is responsible for planning ‘adaptation’.  As CO2 increasingly causes global warming, London will increasingly suffer from more frequent flooding and also from overheating and water problems.

The damaging effects of Air Pollution, however, are constantly with us and London data clearly shows the effects in terms of premature deaths and illness.

The cause of both is the build-up of Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and, although cause and effect of CO2 leading to Global Warming is not as apparent as NO2/particulates leading to ill health, tackling the causes shown below for Air Pollution, will go a long way to solve both problems.

London emission charts

Figures from draft Camden Clean Air Action Plan 2016-18 February 2016 (p10)

The table clearly shows the urgency of moving from polluting cars to clean cars for Air Quality – and this will help defer Global Warming too.

Powers and Responsibilities of the Mayor and London bodies

For Climate Change obligations, the Mayor has the statutory duty under the Greater London Authority Act 2007 to contribute towards the mitigation of, and adaptation to, climate change, and each London Borough is charged with including CO2 targets in their plans.

For Air pollution obligations, legislation for dealing with causes and for monitoring the resultant levels is derived from the EU which devolves it to the Department of Farming and Rural Affairs (Defra), which devolves it to the Mayor of London who devolves responsibility to London Boroughs.

Sadiq Khan’s ambitious promises can only be kept by using all of his Mayoral powers (and more) and massively ramping up existing London actions for clean transport, clean buildings and clean energy. These powers include the remit to provide a ‘Vision’ for London and to support investment in public transport, using the £17bn annual budget collected from transport fares, business rates, council tax and government grants.

The Mayor is required to produce a London Plan based on his vision, covering strategies including EnvironmentTransportEconomic Development and Housing sections that are crucial for reducing carbon and air pollution. In order to deliver these strategies he works closely with the 33 local government authorities (London Boroughs) and controls Transport for London (TfL).

London Councils is a cross-party organisation that represents London’s 32 borough councils and the City of London. The London Council’s Transport and Environment Committee (TEC) co-ordinates issues that are pan London. On 13th Oct the TEC had an Electric Vehicles & Car Clubs Update. For the Go Ultra Low City Scheme it discussed the £3.5m grant from the Department of Transport that will go to the 8 boroughs that applied on 13th Sept for ‘Neighbourhoods of the Future’. A decision was taken “in principle” for the London Councils’ TEC taking on the Delivery Partner Strategy role for EV charging infrastructure and agreement for the TEC to produce a London wide ‘charter’ for both EV charging networks and car clubs. On 20th Jan 2017 the Mayor announced further details of the schemes across nine boroughs. See What are Boroughs, Companies and Voluntary Groups doing? for more information.

See ‘What is Happening that the Mayor can Control‘ for pan London initiatives that the Mayor can make happen.

Transport for London’s (TfL) role

Transport for London is responsible  for the Red Routes (busiest, most polluted roads), Buses, Taxis as well as managing other transport facilities such as the Santander Cycles, London Overground and Docklands light railway.

London Boroughs role

“The Secretary of State expects London boroughs to participate in the Mayor’s London LAQM framework and have regard to any advice or guidance issued by the Mayor of London as to the performance of their functions under LAQM”  (draft London Local Air Quality Management Policy Guidance 2016 (LLAQM.PG (16)) (para 5.01). Summarised from para 2.10, guidance includes:

  • to monitor and assess air pollution in their areas
  • to ensure an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) is declared and in place for any locations that are exceeding air quality objectives and EU Limit Values.
  • to complete an Annual Status Report (ASRs) including reports on NO2, PM10 and SO2
  • to produce an Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) for the exercise of any of the borough’s relevant potential powers to achieve air quality standards and objectives including statements as to when the borough proposes to implement each of the proposed measures.
  • How the borough will address the ‘exceedance problem’ and how it will work across its transport, planning and public health departments, and its other external delivery partners to implement the AQAP

A more detailed list of best practice suggestions is held at LLAQM Borough Air Quality Action Matrix.

In effect the London Boroughs have very few powers to improve Air Quality, but many obligations to monitor the pollution.

See ‘What are Boroughs, Companies and Voluntary Groups doing?‘ for some of the activities that London Boroughs are undertaking.

The Mayor also works with Cities across the world, and the UN Conference of Parties to collaborate on Climate Change and Air Pollution issues.

  • London signed the Paris Pledge for Action during the Paris COP21 in Dec 2015, which states that the signatories “affirm our strong commitment to a safe and stable climate in which temperature rise is limited to under 2 degrees Celsius”. According to Jeremy Leggett in Sept 2016 four US cities have already achieved 100% renewable power: Aspen, Colorado; Burlington, Vermont; Columbia, Maryland and Greensburg, Kansas.

    London belongs to the C40 network, “which surveys the Mayoral Powers of its member cities in order to understand where the greatest opportunities exist to advance specific climate actions.”  In the case of London the city has strong powers over transport and main roads, with few powers over many other areas. Sadiq Khan became Vice Chair in Aug 2016.

    In Sept 2016 the C40 Mayors wrote to the G20 National leaders, meeting at that time in Hangzhou “we, mayors of the major cities within the G20, call on our national leaders to work with us to build a low carbon, climate safe world.”

    London is a signatory of the Compact of Mayors (now merged with the Covenant of Mayors ) representing 7,100+ cities in 119 countries. These cities have a total population of 8% of the global population and the Mayors have agreed to “Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20% by 2020 through the implementation of a Sustainable Energy Action Plan adopted in Council and report on progress every two years.”

    More specifically, London made promises  to tackle Climate Change with the Non-State Actor Zone for Climate Action (NAZCA). These promises include:

    • Reduce community-wide CO2e emissions by 60% from 1990 to 2025
    • USD 610m green bonds issued for projects in low carbon transport in United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland by the Transport for London (TfL)
    • Reduce emissions from the transportation sector and improve air quality through the introduction of low and ultimately zero emission buses in fleets.”
    • ”Double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency by 2030.”

Significant finance is needed to make the highly ambitious transition away from high carbon, high polluting transport, buildings and energy. If London issues ‘Green Bonds’, as referred to above, the funds will be one source of funds for London to undertake major infrastructure projects and to kick-start Borough projects.

Londoners with capital will have a role in investing in London Green Bonds as well as financing community energy. However Londoners also spend considerable disposable income on vehicles, energy and on home improvements. Directing this money into electric vehicles, renewable energy and low energy home improvements would be instrumental in cleaning up London.

  • Climate Financing

    Seth Schulz of C40 believes that “there’s a lot of money out there… and a lot of (infrastructure) projects, but they’re not connecting.”

    He was launching the New Perspective on Climate Finance for Cities report from Siemens, Citi and the C40 Cities. It suggests ways that London could finance expenditure on major initiatives to counter Climate Change and Air Pollution, such as:

    • emission trading schemes should be utilised by cities
    • the green bond market provides long-term security for infrastructure projects, while more cities are looking to issue their own labelled bonds in order to access a $42bn windfall.
    • city government backed funds
    • equity capital options in order to encourage further private sector funding as debt or equity

    European Investment Bank

    To date, London has used the European Investment Bank (EIB) for many of the services above. The EIB is the European Union’s bank set up to support climate change investments across the EU. The EU has pledged as much as €180bn of its budget to low-carbon growth and the EIB also raises money from emissions trading and by issuing bonds.

    Examples of the work of the European Investment Bank includes the European Local ENergy Assistance (ELENA) that provides Project Development Assistance (PDA) grants, ranging from €6 million to €50 million grants to help local and regional authorities develop and launch large-scale sustainable energy investments. For instance TfL borrowed €1.4bn (£1bn) “to finance the upgrading of existing lines and stations on the London Underground, as well as the construction of a network of cycle paths in the capital.”

    Another example is the London Green Fund managed by the European Investment Bank. It is a revolving fund of £120 million, set up to invest in schemes that cut London’s carbon emission. London Energy Efficiency Fund (LEEF) to be lent to public or private sector borrowers on projects that promote energy efficiency,  Foresight Environmental Fund that lends to waste projects and the  Housing Finance Corporation Limited (THFC) that lends to Housing Associations have used the fund so far.

    As financial services from the EU Investment Bank cease the UK will need to replace them with a UK Investment Bank to fund Climate Change and Air Pollution solutions. The nearest equivalent of the EIB in the UK is the UK Green Investment Bank ”We have invested in every part of the UK and across all our target sectors, backing large projects with a capital expenditure of more than £1bn and small projects of £2m. We have set up five funds to specifically target smaller projects.” However the UK Green Investment Bank does not have the range of services from dispersing a budget to facilitating private loans that the EIB has.

    Refusing to fund the Fossil Fuel industry

    Sadiq Khan promised before he was elected to “Take all possible steps to divest the London Pension Fund Authority of its remaining investments in Fossil Fuels”. However, Fossil Free reported in July 2016 that “The campaign has so far won support from the London Assembly, who passed a motion in favour of divestment, and new Mayor Sadiq Khan who included it in his election manifesto. The LPFA, however, has so far refused to act.”

    The London Pension Fund could have redirected its funds to investments to clean London.

    Raising funds for Local Authorities

    I0:10 concluded in Community energy the way forward that, once government cuts had fed through the system, community energy could only be viable by taking advantage of low Local Council loans, such as Public Works Loan Board. The PWLB “function is to lend money from the National Loans Fund to local authorities, and to collect the repayments. …… Moneys are provided by Act of Parliament, drawn from the National Loans Fund and rates of interest are determined by the Treasury” but expected to be about 2%.

    Raising funds worldwide

    “The Green Finance Study Group has highlighted how important and possible it is for the private sector to work with public bodies in creating the enabling conditions to mobilize green finance,” G20 July 2016 Chengdu China.

  • Although the Mayor and Local Authority leaders can encourage and facilitate the move away from polluting transport, buildings and energy the most effective difference will be from a change in spend decisions by individuals.

    If the cost of owning and running a petrol/diesel car in London was expensive compared with owning an electric car, (and charging points were convenient) motorists would switch. For instance, if a car was found to have high pollution and was banned or charged more to drive in London, people would change cars.

    If car clubs (with electric vehicles) were low cost and convenient, people would give up their cars.

    If cycling seemed safe and convenient more people would ride.

    If adding energy efficiency measures to home improvements was inexpensive and convenient more people would do it. For instance, if a block of flats had scaffolding for painting, and regulations required insulation to be added to the job (where practicable), estate managers would do it.

    If boilers were condemned for incurring high emissions, people would buy new ones.

    If developers were required to provide a BRE Home Quality Mark for new homes they would be energy efficient throughout their lifetime.

    Similarly, if London had an energy company offering clean electricity at a good rate, people would switch to it.

    If London provided help to enable community energy groups to install solar PV and solar water heating, Londoners would lend their capital and renewable energy would quickly grow.

    All of the above are a redirection of consumer spend, not ‘tax spend’ and the methods to achieve this redirection are no different to commercial Marketing methods.