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Croydon Climate Action is proud to be a member of the London Friends of the Earth Network - a collection of London-based Friends of the Earth and Climate Action groups campaigning for the environment on a wider level. Want to join the network? Email londonfoenetwork@gmail.com

Below is a list of campaigns and pieces of work we have helped produced as part of the network.

 

RESPONSE TO THE MAYOR OF LONDON'S DRAFT BUDGET

On Monday 17th January, we submitted comments on the Mayor of London's draft proposed budget for 2022-2023.

Due to the pandemic decimating Transport for London’s fare income, the mayor’s budget position is very poor. He expects that tube services will have to be cut by 9%, and bus services by 18%. This would contribute to a further increase in traffic pollution, confounding the mayor’s aim to “significantly reduce car use in favour of greener means of travel.” The government bears much of the responsibility for the public transport cuts. However the need to prioritise the climate emergency, and implement his claim to be “the first green mayor of London” means that the mayor should show leadership and creativity to direct funds to where they are vitally needed. In his recent interview at COP26 he stated that it is the people with the least money everywhere who are already suffering most from the impacts of climate change and air pollution, yet they produce the fewest emissions.     


The mayor has now been trying for a few years to leverage private finance to help cut London’s emissions. His draft budget states (para 1.56): “The GLA’s 1.5C climate action plan estimated the costs of delivering net zero by 2050 requires in excess of £61 billion of capital investment in buildings and infrastructure, which will need a huge acceleration in the use of private finance.”


Compared to this, the 2022-23 budget for the mayor’s “Green New Deal”, of only £21.8 million, is very inadequate. So far the Mayor’s Energy Efficiency Fund has been able to make only very limited progress compared to what is needed. It has mobilised £310+ million of capital, but this has reduced London’s CO2 only by the equivalent of “taking 14,200 cars off the road”, i.e. only about half of 1% of the total. The GLA is part of the UK Cities Climate Investment Commission, which reported recently on public/private financing. It found that the prospects for significant levels of investment in carbon reduction are not strong, and therefore recommended “attaching financial disincentives to activities associated with higher greenhouse gas emissions”. Doing so would enable the mayor to achieve the emissions cuts we need so urgently, using London’s iconic status to set a great example for other cities. Research on several cities including London has repeatedly shown that increases in the price of driving lead to substantial reductions in car miles driven. Such disincentives would also raise vital funds to make progress much sooner on his “Retrofit Revolution”. 


The first step the mayor could take very soon, as an interim/medium-term measure, would be to include vehicles which emit well above the average level of CO2 in the criteria for the Ultra-Low Emission Zone. This could be enforced using the existing cameras and therefore would need no upfront investment, only a consultation, which would not be costly. 2018 statistics show that nearly one-sixth of UK cars emitted more than 171 grams of CO2 per kilometer, while nearly two-thirds emitted 151 grams or less. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency has data showing the tested amount of CO2 emitted by each car model. Therefore drivers of cars to be added to the ULEZ could be informed, so they could change their transport options before the launch date. TfL states that there are 2.6 million cars in London. The expanded Ultra-Low Emission Zone has about two-fifths of London’s population, but a somewhat lower proportion of its cars. The Evening Standard has stated that it contains about one million cars. The number of these which emit more than 171 grams per km would be approximately 161,000. If these cars were driven within the Ultra-Low Emission Zone about twice weekly, i.e. 100 times per year, each would pay £1,250 per year, totalling £201 million. This money would enable the mayor to accelerate progress on his Retrofit Revolution, and help reduce some of the public transport cuts. Many of these cars emit high levels of CO2 because they are SUVs or high-performance cars, most of which are owned by people with relatively high incomes.


In order to tackle climate breakdown in a manner commensurate with the damage it would otherwise cause, the mayor should prepare to introduce a comprehensive per mile road user charge.  The ULEZ is a blunt instrument which gives drivers no incentive to limit their mileage once they have incurred the set daily charge. Smart road charging throughout London, at the very modest price of £0.08 per mile, would raise £1.14 billion per year, after exempting electric cars and cars driven by or for people with disabilities. A poll three years ago found that nearly three-quarters of Londoners support road charging to reduce pollution.


We are concerned that despite announcing a “Retrofit Revolution”, the mayor is not prioritising the training required. The government’s Green Homes Grant foundered partly because there are too few companies with the necessary skills. Yet the mayor’s skills academy programme lists green training alongside a number of other sectors of the economy which are less vital to London’s short- and long-term well-being. For example, last summer its remit was expanded to include the hospitality sector. Hospitality will not help to boost London’s productive capacity, nor will it help protect us from climate breakdown. While we understand that the mayor wishes to help all those who wish to train in their chosen sector, the inadequacy of his budget requires him to make wise strategic choices.