As a part of our mission towards a more sustainable London, we feel obliged to sharethis letter from the community energy groups of London, addressed to the London Mayoral Candidates. 19 active groups are represented. Listed below are the thoughts of the candidates (in alphabetical order):
Green Party candidate for London Mayor
As Green candidate for London Mayor, my goal is to help make London a place where everyone can enjoy a city that is green, beautiful, healthy and safe - and protected from the effects of climate change.
With air pollution and Heathrow already proving to be key issues, I am optimistic that sustainability will be at the heart of how people choose their next Mayor. In October, pollsters ICM found voters more concerned about green issues than ever before, with more than two thirds saying they would be more likely to vote based on environmental policies, including green energy, building a green economy and reducing waste.
Air pollution is the issue I hear most about, from my own council ward of Highgate to all corners of London threatened with new developments, including Heathrow, City Airport, the M4 in the west and the proposed Silvertown tunnel in the east. At the LSx conference in August I met many local groups carrying out ‘citizen science’ studies exposing the dangerous levels of pollution they already face, and demanding action.
The outcry over the VW emissions test scandal only adds to the need for a prospective Mayor to work on urgent and effective ways to reduce pollution. This must not just focus on individual vehicles, but also on reducing traffic and investing in cleaner and more efficient ways to get people and goods around. Only that way will our air become safe to breathe as soon as possible, and the devastating harm to our health reduced.
Previous elections have seen fierce campaigns for safe routes for people of all ages to cycle, Recent changes in policy will help all Londoners with reduced congestion and safer, more pleasant streets, not just those on two wheels. As someone who cycles to work, I am very proud of the continued work of campaigning cycling groups. I hope all candidates will agree that this kind of investment needs to be further increased, to make our city healthier and a great place to live.
It’s also good to see the new campaign to make London a National Park City. The work being done to develop this idea is fantastic, and engaging political representatives at all levels. It is so positive to see the benefits of green and open spaces for education, health and wellbeing, not just for nature and climate, included in this campaign. Linking up these issues is what sustainability and green politics is all about.
Heathrow expansion would be devastating for communities across wide areas of London, bringing more noise, traffic and air pollution. At the recent anti-Heathrow rally in Parliament Square I was the only Mayoral candidate also speaking up against Gatwick expansion and calling for airport expansion to be stopped across the south-east of England on the grounds of climate change. I hope that the idea of a ‘frequent flyer levy’ put forward by the afreeride.org campaign will be persuasive. New runways are not needed and we should oppose them, not just from a ‘nimby’ perspective, but as a global issue too.
Similarly, I’m against road building, expanding motorways, adding new road tunnels and bridges, rather than the walking, cycling and public transport links that the largely car-free population in east London really needs. I will be working hard and supporting local campaigns to win a consensus on this too.
I look forward to working with LSx on campaigns on these issues and more in the coming months. With the Paris climate talks approaching, there has never been a better time to win politicians over to thinking about sustainability in every area of policy, and making a real difference to our city in the future.
Conservative Party candidate for London Mayor
London is a great city and we need to ensure London is a great city for Londoners. That means continuing to improve the environment in which we live, protecting the quality of our green spaces and access to them, tackling low level nuisance crime such as graffiti and litter which blights our neighbourhoods, and cutting down on the waste we generate.
I have long campaigned and delivered on these issues, whether preventing the sale of playing fields, or protecting funding for Kew Gardens.
Air pollution is also back as a major public health issue – more than 60 years since the Clean Air Act. Today, a million Londoners live in areas that exceed legal limits on NO2. Boris has begun the process of tackling this. No other world city has a Low Emission Zone and plans for an Ultra Low Emission Zone on top of existing congestion charging. London also already has the largest electric-hybrid bus fleet in Europe and we’ve also seen record investment in cycling.
But London is growing by the equivalent of two extra tube trains per week and we need to do much more. For example, we need a revolution in electric vehicles – both public and privately owned. Costs are falling fast, technology is improving and we are on a cusp where getting around in an electric car will be cheaper than a conventional one, which could have big benefits both for the people who live, work and raise a family in London, but also for businesses of all kinds.
Labour Party candidate for London Mayor
London is a great city, but it’s also dangerously polluted. Despite its acres of parks an
d green spaces, London’s air is so filthy it is in breach of legal standards. Last year, 10,000 Londoners died prematurely because of poor air quality. This is unacceptable, and it’s a stain on our modern and forward-looking city.
It’s disappointing that the outgoing Mayor has spent so long with his head buried in the sand, storing up problems for the future. He’s done far too little to tackle London’s growing environmental challenges. It’s going to be left to his successor to clear up the mess, and I’d relish the chance to be the green Mayor the city deserves.
The list of problems needing the new Mayor’s attention is lengthy. On tackling the city’s polluted air, I’ll instruct TfL officials to extend the proposed ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) beyond the current central London area it is due to cover from 2010. Early in my time as Mayor, I’ll make clear TfL will only purchase 'green' buses from 2020, sending a signal to the market to invest in the new technologies we need. I’ll also oppose an additional runway at Heathrow which will do so much more damage to people’s health in West London.
Promoting cycling and walking will be at the heart of my transport offer. We need to make much greater use of greener and healthier forms of getting around the city, and I’ll do what I can to make it easier. That’s why I’ll ensure the most dangerous junctions receive the necessary investment to make them safer for those on bikes AND ensure new residential and workplace developments include ample cycle storage. It’s also whypedestrianising Oxford Street – turning it into a tree-lined avenue – is one of my priorities.
But we also need to create more green open spaces, which is why I’m a passionate supporter of the National Park City status for London. This will send a signal to Londoners and the world that we intend to make London the greenest city on the planet, and make sure that more than half of the city is green space. This means factoring in new parks and gardens into developments, and landscaping forgotten corners of estates and communities to create the green lungs our city so desperately needs.
But we’ve also got to do a lot more to make the city more energy efficient and weaken its reliance on carbon intensive energy generation. The Mayor needs to show real leadership on community generation and energy efficiency schemes, stepping into the gap left by the Tory government’s lack of action. I’ll also make the most of London as a city of roofs to maximise solar energy schemes, starting first with GLA and TfL buildings.
None of what I’m proposing should be to the detriment of the city’s businesses – quite the contrary. Being green, in my view, means being pro-business and pro-jobs. After all, this is a key growth area of the future – we need London to be at the vanguard of green and clean technology, and all the skilled, well-paid jobs that flow from it.
Next May should be the start of a new chapter for London. It’s an opportunity to get to grips with the city’s polluted air, reduce our reliance on dirty forms of energy generation and create exciting hi-tech jobs in the green economy. That’s why I’m so passionate about wanting to be the next Mayor of London. For me, creating a cleaner, greener and more sustainable city is absolutely crucial to the future prosperity and quality of life of all Londoners.
Liberal Democrat candidate for London Mayor
With more people than ever before now living in London, the environmental challenges facing our city are becoming ever more intense. The rate of population growth shows no signs of slowing. How we manage this growth sustainably is among the greatest challenges facing London.
We need new homes, jobs and infrastructure to ensure London remains competitive internationally, but we also need people to live in a more sustainable way: in homes with energy efficiency measures already installed, using energy generated from secure and renewable local sources, travelling to work by sustainable modes – such as walking and cycling – in a city free from the dangers posed by air pollution. For these reasons, my priorities as Mayor will be to:
Here are just some of the options I think we need to consider:
Air pollution. Everyone must be fully informed when air pollution soars to higher levels than normal. Despite past pledges by the Mayor, the lack of information that is directly disseminated by the Greater London Authority is still appalling. On some days, high levels of pollution affects whether some people can even travel around. Air pollution alerts should be an integral part of TfL’s daily communication with the public, including prominent information on its website.
But while alerting people when air pollution is high is important, the key issue must be to tackle air pollution at source.
The specific policies I advocate are high standards being set for the Ultra Low Emission Zone - the zone should be a diesel-free zone. We need to especially help taxi drivers quickly switch over to zero emission vehicles, but their price is a huge barrier. A big switch to electric taxis will only happen if TfL bulk purchases electric taxis and then leases or sells them to taxi drivers / garages.
London’s bus fleet also needs to be transformed and go fully electric. Electric buses are rapidly developing around the world, yet shamefully London has fewer electric buses than Milton Keynes.
Climate change: Reducing London’s carbon footprint must continue. Key priorities are a big switch to renewable energy and a move away from such a heavy reliance on private cars. London’s population might be set to grow by a million people but we simply can’t afford to have a further million cars.
We need to reach out to older people who are continuing to be car owners, despite significant cost. Car Clubs at present are too often the preserve of younger people. Providing real incentives for older people to join Car Clubs and rewarding people for getting rid of their expensive to maintain, privately-owned cars would put money into the pockets of many pensioners - and lead to far fewer cars on our roads. It could be a win-win policy for everyone.