In just over two months, Londoners will have voted for a new mayor to replace Boris Johnson. But have you wondered – what can the new mayor do to take on the big environmental issues facing the UK’s capital city?
Here are three ideas the mayoral candidates should be throwing their weight behind to help turn London into a cleaner and greener city.
1. Clean up the air we breathe
Air pollution causes almost 10,000 early deaths in London alone each year – second only to smoking. We need a clean air plan that helps save lives, cleans up our city, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
The new mayor needs to back a Clean Air Zone to ensure trucks and cars can’t pump pollution into the lungs of Londoners each day. And the way to start making this happen is by expanding the ULEZ (ultra-low emission zone).
The cash generated from expanding the ULEZ could also help fund other schemes like provisions for cycling, electric vehicle charging, or innovative ideas like Oyster based car share schemes.
If the ULEZ is expanded, the next London mayor also needs to make sure that people on low incomes aren’t negatively impacted this Green Alliance report, has some ideas on how the expansion could be rolled out without harming London’s poorest communities.
2. Ramp up the roll out of solar power
London is at risk of missing out on the solar energy revolution – as things stand, the capital is one of the worst cities in the UK for uptake of solar power.
To catch up, the next mayor needs to increase the uptake of solar power by a factor of 10 – aiming for solar panels to be added to 200,000 more rooftops over the next 10 years.
To help make this happen, the new mayor should back schemes similar to Hackney Energy – a community energy project where young people are trained to become install engineers.
3. Champion London’s green spaces and biodiversity
London is host to some of the most beautiful city-based green spaces in the world and has more than 3,000 parks and open spaces. The new mayor needs to not only protect the green spaces we have, but champion new ones to help people re-connect with nature, increase biodiversity and help the air we breathe.
A number of great initiatives already exist: 'Making a B-Line for London' has set out to increase the abundance and diversity of pollinating flowers in London; and 'Natural Thinkers' helps thousands of children get out into nature on a regular basis. Schemes like these could be ramped up. And to take things even further, the next mayor should introduce guidelines to ensure that new buildings include public access to green spaces.
Want to know more?
This coming Friday evening, four of the main mayoral candidates will take part in a green hustings – an event where each candidate will share their vision for a cleaner, greener capital city. The event will be hosted by LBC’s James O'Brien, and you take tune into the live-steam here or follow #GreenerLondon on Twitter.