Wednesday, February 28, 2007

London Climate Change Action Plan

Yesterday saw the publication of the Mayor of London's Climate Change Action Plan. 'Action Today to Protect Tomorrow' is a detailed plan to slash London's carbon emissions by 60% within 20 years and place the city at the forefront of the battle against climate change. It focuses on 4 areas:

· A Green Homes Programme
· A Green Organisations Programme
· A Green Energy Programme
· A Green Transport Programme

Lewisham is to be the Green Homes Service pilot, which sounds like good news for us. I definitely need to improve the insulation and energy efficiency in my flat - I've done the easy energy-saving things like using low energy light bulbs and not leaving things on stand-by, but think I now need to look at better insulation - under the floorboards maybe as I have wooden floors rather than carpets, draught-proofing, double-glazing, maybe some wall insulation - could do with some more specific advice.

Lots of press coverage on the launch of the plan, including a BBC London article, the Guardian, Ken Livingstone's blog and Jenny Jones' blog on comment is free. Green Party Principal Speaker Sian Berry, who wrote the foreword to the plan, spoke at yesterday's launch and said: "This action plan cannot be implemented too soon. Greens in London will be working hard to make sure that the ideas in the plan are actually brought in, not left on the shelf marked 'fine words'.

"We are one of the most vulnerable cities to the effects of climate change. In the past six years, the Thames Barrier, built to defend London from flooding, has been raised a staggering 56 times, compared with just three times in first six years after in was built in the 1980s."

Sian also cited the need for action from central government to tackle climate change:

"We can lead the way with our actions in London, but curbing aviation growth and bringing in radical policies like personal carbon allowances are down to central government. We need to see a real change at the top."

Darren Johnson, Green Party member of the London Assembly and Brockley councillor added:

"With the Government allowing climate change emissions to rise since 1997, it is right that London should make the break with national complacency and declare that we will cut our emissions by 60% in the next 18 years, rather than the national target of 43 years. The recent package of actions outlined in the Mayor’s budget agreement letter to myself and Jenny Jones produced the capital’s first climate change budget. As a direct result, the way we spend money on transport, police and economic development is being transformed in London and I hope that where we lead, others will follow.”

London’s Green MEP, Jean Lambert also welcomed the plan but warned that with emissions from London’s domestic sector accounting for 37%, higher than levels from transport, we must not lose sight of the impact individual changes to our homes can make. Jean commented;

“In London alone there are nearly one million homes with un-insulated cavity walls, severely increasing levels of damaging emissions from the domestic sector. By insulating our homes, turning the heating down a notch or two and simply taking greater care to turn off lights and electrical equipment when not in use, we can make a real difference.”

1) Synopsis of proposals:

· Green Homes Programme - Homes are responsible for 38 per cent of emissions. The plan sets out how annual domestic carbon dioxide emissions can be reduced by 7.7 million tonnes by 2025. By making homes more energy efficient, the average London household could save £300 per year off their fuel bills, as well as cutting emissions. The Mayor announced an offer of cut-price loft and cavity wall insulation, available across the whole of London to every home that can benefit from it. The offer will be totally free for people on benefits and we will particularly look to ensure that older Londoners can take advantage.

· Green Organisations Programme - London's employers, both commercial and public sector, are responsible for 33 per cent of the capital’s emissions. If all of London’s employers introduced simple changes like turning off lights and IT equipment at night, emissions would be cut by over three million tonnes a year. Modest improvements to the energy efficiency of London’s commercial and public buildings would cut emissions by a further two million tonnes. If all of the actions in this Plan were implemented they would save employers up to 40 per cent on their energy bills.

· Green Energy Programme - decentralised energy. It will not be possible for London to achieve its carbon reduction targets without a fundamental change in how energy is generated and supplied. The Action Plan sets a target to move a quarter of London’s energy supply off the National Grid and on to more efficient, local energy systems by 2025.

· Green Transport Programme – Transport is responsible for 22 per cent of London’s emissions. The plan sets out how annual transport emissions can be cut by 4.3 million tonnes. CO2 emissions from road transport would fall by as much as 30 per cent if people simply bought the most fuel-efficient version of the car they want.

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