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Publication from Caroline Russell: Response to Mayor's draft Environment Strategy

Date published: 
20 November 2017

Severe weather warning: Mayor must future proof London

This is my response to the Mayor's draft Environment Strategy.

Tackling climate change is the defining challenge of our time. London should be at the forefront of change but the Mayor’s environment strategy falls short of the action needed to meet our Paris climate change commitments.

London is not ready for an extreme weather event. It’s at serious risk of floods from heavy rainfall, heatwaves and water shortages. Climate disruption around the world also puts our complex food chains at risk. We need a resilient city that can weather these storms.

While the strategy acknowledges these risks, it’s targets and programmes don’t even come close to the preventative action that is needed now and over the next decade to protect Londoners, wildlife and biodiversity.

The Mayor must not miss the chance to show London’s leadership, as a global city, in confronting the problems faced by densely populated cities, not only mitigating climate risks but solving the emerging public health emergency caused by our polluted air.

Londoners have a right to breathe clean air wherever they live and be free of noise that is damaging to their health. The Mayor’s current proposals are too focused on central London, they are too little and late. However, I am glad the Mayor has taken up my recommendation for establishing a particulate matter (PM 2.5) target based on World Health Organisation guidelines. This needs to be applied to his Ultra Low Emission Zone.

Apart from ensuring that traffic is reduced to cut air pollution, the Mayor cannot undermine his own policies by backing new sources of pollution like Silvertown Tunnel.

The target of meeting 15 per cent of energy demand with renewable and community energy by 2030 is lacklustre. This doesn't even come close to the scale of ambition required.

The Mayor needs to set up Energy for Londoners as a fully-licensed energy supply company. Opting for a white label company is a huge mistake. It will not provide the independence to set tariffs or the resources to invest in energy sector jobs and renewable energy to cut fuel poverty.

The Mayor’s decision to clear the way for expansion at City Airport and support for more flights at Gatwick is reckless. The Mayor should invite his C40 counterparts to join him in a call to suspend all aviation expansion. This will show true climate change leadership.

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