Your message at the Paris Climate Change Summit

MQT on 2015-11-18
Session date: 
November 18, 2015
Question By: 
Darren Johnson
City Hall Greens
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


What can you take to Paris to give confidence about London's commitment to tackling climate change?


Answer for Your message at the Paris Climate Change Summit

Answer for Your message at the Paris Climate Change Summit

Answered By: 
The Mayor

[See also answers to questions 2015/3771 and 2015/3627]

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Thanks, Darren.  The message from London to the Climate Change Summit in Paris is that we continue to be extremely ambitious about delivering London’s energy future and reducing carbon emissions.  I am going for a couple of days - or a day or something - representing London at the C40 conference of mayors.

The ambition remains very, very demanding.  We want to cut London’s carbon emissions by 60% by 2025 based on the 1990 level.  As I just said to Murad [Qureshi AM], between 2008 and 2013, London’s carbon emissions decreased by 14% even though the population went up by 600,000 and per capita emissions have, therefore, gone down by 20%.  That was in a time of big economic growth.  London’s gross value added (GVA) went up by 18%.  That was an achievement, folks, and we are going to continue.

Darren Johnson AM:  We can argue about your achievements and we can argue about whether you have been ambitious enough ‑‑

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  No, you cannot argue.  No, you cannot.

Darren Johnson AM:  ‑‑ but what I want to focus on now ‑‑

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  No, Darren, no.

Darren Johnson AM:  Just listen and concentrate.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  There is no argument.

Darren Johnson AM:  The actions of this Government are making it ever more difficult for you as Mayor and for your successor as Mayor to deliver on these targets.  Can we look at the zero-carbon homes requirement?  You are keeping it in the London Plan and it has had a significant effect, but Government changes may force the next Mayor to drop it altogether when it rewrites it.

Will you lobby the Government to restore this policy nationally after it has scrapped it or at least ensure that it is devolved so that it can be a decision for the Mayor of London without interference from central Government?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  That is a very serious question.  Nicky [Gavron AM] has a question later on exactly this point but, through you, Jennette [Jennette Arnold OBE, Chair], I will answer it even though my answer will anticipate what I would say to Nicky.

The London Plan already requires that development reduces carbon emissions in a viable and feasible way and so we have statute already through progressively tightening emission reduction targets.  At the moment, those require a 35% improvement over the national standard - that is the 2013 Building Regulations - and I intend to keep those in place, in spite of what you rightly say the Government is doing.  Therefore, what we are looking at is making sure that we can continue through the London Plan to ensure that zero-carbon homes are delivered in London.  We will be issuing further guidance in due course to provide the industry with the certainty it needs about how to do that.

Darren Johnson AM:  You will go to Paris with a clear message on that?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Absolutely.

Darren Johnson AM:  Good.  What about the solar Feed-in Tariff (FIT)?  I know you expressed your concerns on that.  The Government’s plans to slash this right down in such a dramatic and hasty fashion are really damaging the solar industry and are really damaging for the ability of this city to properly tackle climate change.

Are you going to seek clarity from the Government on its intentions ahead of the Paris summit?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Absolutely.  I have been lobbied a great deal about this subject.  Again, you are anticipating a question, if I may say, from the Labour Group, but I will certainly answer it happily.

The changes to the FIT are something that I was initially very concerned about and some of you may remember I expressed concern about it because it was quite a sharp cliff-drop, it seemed to me, for the subsidy removal.  It is important that the Government should get that message and we have been putting that message across.

On the other hand, if it is the case - which I think it is - that the costs of solar are coming down, then it also makes sense for the Government to be withdrawing the subsidy.  The question is how fast and how far you can go without jeopardising what has been a very successful industry.  The technology is changing.  The deals are changing.  It is very encouraging and exciting to see the progress that is being made in solar.

What we are saying in the consultation is that we would like to see a transition to zero incentives spread out a little bit longer and that is the argument we are making.  We would like to see a little bit longer for the industry to, as it were, acclimatise to this change.

Darren Johnson AM:  Will you try to get assurances from the Government ahead of Paris on that and are you prepared to make a big deal of this in Paris if you do not get assurance?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  We have already, as you know, made a response to the Government’s proposals from the consultation it issued on the review of FITs and we made a variety of points, which I have already expressed.  It was not in perhaps very violent language but there was no question that we see the cliff-edge problem and the uncertainty, although we accept the need to make the transition to subsidy-free as soon as possible.  Obviously, if we can get to a situation in which the solar industry can operate on its own and stand more on its own two feet, it would be great.

Darren Johnson AM:  One final quick question from me before I hand over to my colleague.  The London Climate Change Partnership has lost funding from the Environment Agency and is running down its reserves and could close in 2017.  It has done some really important work.  Will you be looking at underwriting its funding as you prepare next year’s budget?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I will certainly look at it, Darren, although I do not want to make any commitments now in advance of the budget.