Last month we launched Greener London with eight other environmental organisations, a set of 20 practical actions for the next mayor that together would make London a greener, fairer and better place to live and work.
Starting today, with exactly a month to go until the London mayoral election, we will be publishing blogs from candidates which will lay out their plans for a Greener London.
Today we hear from Labour candidate Sadiq Khan MP.
I’ve lived in London all my life. It’s my home city and, of course, there’s nowhere else in the world where I would rather be mayor than here. Growing up on a council estate in south London, I knew the importance of green, open spaces. We didn’t have a garden – so the local park was an oasis for me, my brothers and sister. I know that many Londoners today have the attachment to their parks, commons and heaths – they are our recreation spaces and the city’s green lungs.
In the last few years, I’ve learned to appreciate even more why it’s so crucial we nurture our green spaces. I’ve recently become asthmatic. Tackling poor air quality is now a personal mission for me. I don’t want my daughters growing up in a city in which the air is so choking it’s actually illegal. It is a badge of shame for us all that nearly 10,000 people died prematurely last year because of London’s polluted air.
That’s why I’m determined to be the greenest Mayor London has ever had. Here is what I plan to do:
Transport and air quality
Cleaning up the city’s air is a thread that runs through my manifesto. It’s why I’ve said I’ll explore bringing in the Ultra-Low Emission Zone earlier than 2020, and extend it over larger parts of the city. I only want to buy electric buses from 2020, and I’ll get Transport for London (TfL) to lead on delivering the electric charging infrastructure the city needs. I’ll fight hard to get the government to invest in a diesel scrappage scheme so we can rid the city’s roads of the most polluting vehicles. And it’s why I’m opposing the building of a third runway at Heathrow, because it would blight the lives of thousands of Londoners and stunt the growth of children’s lungs.
I am also determined to do more to get people using greener ways of getting around the city. I’ll freeze tube and bus fares for four years to keep public transport affordable, and introduce a new Hopper bus fare so for the cost of a single ticket you can change buses multiple times in an hour. I’ll appoint a pedestrian champion at TfL to lead efforts on getting more people walking around London, complete the Thames Path and open up more walking routes in the city.
We need to do more to make our public spaces friendly to all users, which is why I’ll improve squares, high streets and major junctions in both inner and outer London, and pedestrianise Oxford Street and Parliament Square. I’ll continue the investment in making London more friendly and safe to those choosing to cycle.
We cannot afford to lose any of our green spaces, which is why I’ll strengthen protections for Metropolitan Open Land and playing fields in the London Plan. I will do all I can to stop building on our precious Green Belt, and ban fracking. And I’ll embark on a major tree planting programme, focused around schools.
I’m determined to do much more on reducing carbon emissions and moving to greener, cleaner forms of energy generation. There was a time when London was a world leader but we are now middling at best. I will aim to restore London as a global beacon. My plan involves setting up a not-for-profit green energy company – Energy for Londoners – adapting the model that’s been successful in Nottingham, providing support to community energy providers, delivering a solar strategy that will make the most of London’s plentiful roofs for energy generation.
I was struck, after visiting the Bunhill district heating scheme, of the merits of using waste heat from the Tube, and I’ll support similar schemes across London. I’ll make sure that the London Plan insists on high environmental standards in all new developments, focused on low carbon, energy efficiency and sustainability standards.
By placing London at the forefront of green and clean technology, I’ll also lead a drive to create new jobs and businesses in environmental technologies. London could and should be a world-leader in green businesses, generating the jobs and prosperity of the future London desperately needs.
I also know that London cannot deliver alone. We can only reduce carbon emissions by working across borders, and air pollution does not stop at the city’s boundaries. I’m determined London will play a key role in driving up environmental standards across the world through collaborating with other cities in the C40 and ICLEI networks. And it’s also why the aim of a greener, cleaner London is best served through the UK remaining a member of the European Union.
There is much for the next mayor to do in making London a greener, cleaner city. That’s why environmental policies are front and centre of my offer, and not just an add-on, because too many Londoners suffer from the effects of bad air quality, lack of access to green space and will suffer from the impact of climate change. This is why I’m determined to be a mayor for all Londoners.