Reducing carbon emissions from London's homes

Meeting: 
MQT on 2015-11-18
Session date: 
November 18, 2015
Reference: 
2015/3627
Question By: 
Stephen Knight
Organisation: 
Liberal Democrats
Asked Of: 
The Mayor
Category: 

Question

In the run-up to December's COP21 summit on Climate Change in Paris, will you instigate a massive expansion of domestic retrofit programmes in London with the target that every home in the capital is retrofitted to reduce energy consumption by 2025?

Answer

Answer for Reducing carbon emissions from London's homes

Answer for Reducing carbon emissions from London's homes

Answered By: 
The Mayor

[See also answers to questions 2015/3771 and 2015/3674]

Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  Assembly Member Knight, can I ask you?  Do you feel you have had enough of an answer to put a supplementary question to the Mayor?

Stephen Knight AM:  Yes, thank you.  Mr Mayor, you have said that you think that retrofitting and cutting our carbon emissions is the answer and ‑‑

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  It is one of the answers, yes.

Stephen Knight AM:  Clearly, it is one of the answers.  My question to you is that, actually, we are failing even on this element of carbon reduction and, in particular, as my question referred to, home energy efficiency measures.  We are failing to meet our carbon reduction targets and have failed to meet our carbon reduction targets on that as well.

Do you still have as an ambition to see 1.2 million homes in London retrofitted by this year, 2015?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  We have done 500,000 and we have another 170,000 or so in the pipeline and, as you know, it is very difficult in London where you have huge numbers of homes that have solid walls, are old terraced houses, are very difficult and expensive to retrofit.

Stephen Knight AM:  Indeed, it is difficult ‑‑

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  If you look at the figures for the reductions in CO2, they are outstanding.  I think we have done better than virtually anywhere else in the country.

Stephen Knight AM:  We may have done better than some other parts of the country, but in terms of the number of homes being retrofitting that is not the case, is it, Mr Mayor?  As you have said, London ‑‑

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  You care about CO2, do you not?

Stephen Knight AM:  No, I am talking about CO2 emissions from homes, Mr Mayor.  You had a target of 1.2 million homes in London ‑‑

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Yes, I have just explained why that is a very difficult ‑‑

Stephen Knight AM:  ‑‑ being retrofitted by this year, 2015, as part of a roadmap to 2.9 million homes being retrofitted by 2025.  The reality is that the actual estimate is now that only 1.1 million will be done by 2017 and that this target is being missed, Mr Mayor.  We are not insulating the homes in London that we need to be in order to reduce carbon by the amount we need to in order to meet our overall objectives.

Going into Paris, is it not essential that we redouble our efforts in London to ensure that we do get London homes retrofitted and we do get a reduction in carbon emitted from London homes and, indeed, warmer homes for all Londoners?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Warmer homes, did you say?

Stephen Knight AM:  Less leaky homes, Mr Mayor, so that we are emitting less carbon into the atmosphere.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Less leaky homes, yes.  Look, we have made a great deal of progress, as I have said, even though the London housing stock is very difficult and very expensive to retrofit.  Half a million homes have been done already.  The RE:NEW programme alone has done 112,000 homes and a further 170,000 are in the pipeline.

Stephen Knight AM:  Mr Mayor, you are still missing your targets.  You are missing your own targets.  That is the point, is it not?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I am delighted by your obsession with my own targets.  What you should look at is the results.  We have cut CO2 emissions, as I say, by 14% or 20% per capita and we think we are on target to get to a 60% reduction by 2025.

Stephen Knight AM:  Mr Mayor, the point is that London is a city of badly insulated homes, of people in fuel poverty ‑‑

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I am not disputing that.

Stephen Knight AM:  ‑‑ and of emitting lots of CO2 into the atmosphere unnecessarily.  We need to redouble our efforts to ensure every home in London is insulated.  The current programmes are not delivering the current targets.  They are not delivering ‑‑

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Actually, as I have said ‑‑

Stephen Knight AM:  Even in the figures that are being produced of homes that have been so-called ‘retrofitted’, most of those homes are just getting draught excluders.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  That is not a bad idea.

Stephen Knight AM:  Only a tiny proportion of them are getting serious measures like loft insulation and cavity-wall ‑‑

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  By the way, draught exclusion is by no means a --

Stephen Knight AM:  The conversion rate of the current programmes into actual measures like loft insulation and cavity-wall insulation, let alone solid-wall insulation, is ‑‑

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Many of these buildings do not have cavity walls.  That is the whole point I am making to you.

Stephen Knight AM:  Mr Mayor, even those properties that do have cavity walls are largely still uninsulated.  We are not even reaching the easy low-hanging fruit, let alone the hard-to-treat.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  You are being too pessimistic.  We have had great success with the RE:NEW and the RE:FIT programmes.  We have had big cuts in CO2 emissions in London through technical fixes and through retrofitting in spite of massive growth in the economy.  We are continuing on that route.

Stephen Knight AM:  Mr Mayor, when we are failing to meet our targets, when we know that we need to do more, does is not seem ‑‑

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  You are obsessed.  We are not failing to meet our targets.  Per capita, we have reduced CO2 by 20% and we have reduced overall London’s CO2 emissions, in spite of huge economic growth, by 14%.  That is a very considerable reduction and we are on target to reduce CO2 emissions by 60% of the 1990 base by 2025.

Stephen Knight AM:  No, we are behind on our targets both in terms of carbon emissions and in terms of the number of homes retrofitted, Mr Mayor.  You are behind on your targets both in terms of homes retrofitted and in terms of carbon emissions from homes.  You are behind on all of your targets and have been every year.

Mr Mayor, we have to do more and in the run-up to Paris I hope that you will do more to redouble efforts.  Will you please look at what more can be done?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  The best way to reduce hot air is to stop the Liberal Democrats at every stage.

Stephen Knight AM:  Does that not just sound complacent about the climate challenge that we face?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  We have had a lot of success in that so far and that is certainly one of the techniques that we are going to continue to deploy.

Stephen Knight AM:  I am glad that you clearly take climate change so seriously and that you do not reduce it to silly jokes.

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  Hear, hear.  Well done.