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.
In the lead up to the London mayoral election, we are publishing blogs from candidates which will lay out their plans for a Greener London.
Today we hear from Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith MP.
London’s living environment is what makes our city special. Other capitals have their glittering skylines and great national monuments – as do we – but few cities on Earth can match London for its extraordinary abundance of parks, commons, woodlands and garden squares.
That priceless network of green space, much of it centuries old, is fundamental to the capital’s success. Yet today it’s under threat. Dirty vehicles on congested roads contaminate our air, the housing crisis is creating a huge temptation to develop on green space and less than two per cent of our energy is clean.
I have stood up for our living environment for twenty years, first as an independent campaigner and then as an MP. As mayor I would do the same. My Action Plan for Greater London will make London the greenest major city on earth: low carbon, zero waste, and as famed for its biodiversity as its cultural diversity.
I will give all Londoners a ‘green space guarantee’: protecting the Green Belt and ensuring no Londoner lives more than five to ten minutes’ walk away from a common, park or wood. I will do this by immediately issuing new planning rules making absolutely clear that the Green Belt is protected; by greening grey areas with 200 new Pocket Parks and through ensuring that big new developments include new green space as standard. I also want to reconnect our children with the countryside, giving at least 100 primary schools their own ‘Pocket Farms’, so they can teach children how to grow their own food, and backing sustainable, healthy food in every London school.
Waste and recycling
I will clean up our capital so London can be proud of its parks and streets. I will set a new target to tackle all fly-tipping and litter within 24 hours; double the number of parks police to crack down on environmental crime; and I will make it much easier for Londoners to recycle, with a London-wide ‘recycling guarantee’. This will be a common set of collection standards to tackle the hassle out of recycling. I also want to put in place a long term ambition for London to be the world’s first Zero Waste City, and will use the procurement power of City Hall to help it make happen.
I will protect London’s extraordinary biodiversity, turning it into a National Park City. I want to knit together London’s green space into a network of wildlife corridors, criss-crossing our city, and with a new ambition for London to become pesticide free, like Tokyo and Paris.
My whole career I’ve taken a leadership position on tackling climate change, and I will do the same if I become mayor, working with the C40 cities to band together to cut emissions from energy and transport wherever I can.
Transport and air quality
My Action Plan for Greater London has clean air right at its heart, and that means we need to transform our transport network. I’ll do that by doubling the rate of cycling over the decade ahead, through working with communities to deliver the next phase of the Cycle Superhighways; bringing Oyster to Boris Bikes and rolling out more cycle hire schemes to the outer boroughs; supporting tougher rules on HGV safety and tackling at least 33 dangerous junctions.
I will clean up London’s taxis, with tough new rules from 2018 and a new LPG retrofit scheme for existing cabs. And I’ll also clean up London’s bus fleet, seeking funding to retrofit our entire London bus fleet to the cleanest diesel standard by 2020 and backing the purchases of hybrid, electric and hydrogen buses.
My overall ambition is for all of London to be a pollution free zone as soon as possible. To ensure this happens, I will seek new powers from government to take dirty cars off our roads with a diesel scrappage scheme and with new powers to support the cleanest possible cars by using Vehicle Excise Duty. I will also consult with Londoners to improve the planned Ultra Low Emission Zone, in tandem with rolling out cleaner car choices and public transport. I will back a Boris Bike equivalent for electric cars and ‘Charging for London’: a new clean car infrastructure right across London.
I will put a solar revolution at the heart of my action plan: with a new target for 200,000 homes to be solar powered over the decade ahead. I also want to use waste heat from the tube and businesses to provide affordable heating for London’s homes and will back a new public energy company.
As well as generating more energy, London needs to save more energy, too. So I will work with the government to ensure London keeps some of the money raised from obligations on the Big Six energy suppliers to help us deliver energy efficiency loans to help Londoners green their homes.
London is the tech capital of Europe. I want to make it the cleantech capital, too. So I will work with the government to secure funding for a West London Cleantech Hub to rival East London’s Tech City.
In everything I do, I will make sure that London’s grey infrastructure is complemented by green infrastructure to reduce flooding, improve air quality and make London a more beautiful place to live. So I will appoint a Green Infrastructure Commissioner to drive my environmental vision for London.
I’ve been an environmentalist my entire life, and if I’m elected mayor on 5 May, I will do everything I can to green our great city.