Clean Air Now? Zac Goldsmith Responds
This blog below written by the Conservative candidate for the Mayor of London, Zac Goldsmith. It’s part of a series of blogs by candidates for London Mayor. We’ll also be featuing blogs by Sadiq Khan (Labour), Caroline Pidgeon (Liberal Democrat) and Sian Berry (Green Party).
London’s air quality is one of the worst in Europe. Add your name to the thousands of people demanding clean air now.
60 years ago, the UK passed the landmark Clean Air Act, a response to the horrific great smog of 1952.
This was seen as the birth of the modern environmental movement here in London. And yet, a generation on, air pollution is back on the agenda.
More than 1 million Londoners are at risk of air pollution and almost 10,000 London lives are cut short every year by our dirty air. The next Mayor can’t afford to wait to solve this escalating problem. And that’s why my Action Plan for Greater London has clean air at its heart.
My Action Plan sets out how I will transform our transport network in order to make London’s air safer to breathe.
I will do that by taking excess HGVs off our roads through using consolidation centres; protecting the cycling budget in order to double the rate of cycling, and by supporting record investment in public transport.
With London growing by the equivalent of two tube trains a week, it is absolute madness to take nearly £2 billion out of the transport system as my Labour rival has proposed. It means we simply won’t have the investment we need to transition to a cleaner transport system. And that has to be our priority.
As well as backing public transport and tackling dirty lorries, my Action Plan also sets out how I will clean up London’s taxis and buses. I’ll back the toughest possible standard for new cabs and buses – we should only buy the cleanest possible vehicles, which means hybrid, electric and hydrogen. And I will retrofit existing buses and existing cabs to make them as clean as possible. For our bus fleet, that means everything up to the cleanest possible diesel standard. And for taxis, we need a wholesale conversion to LPG, which is up to 80% cleaner.
Of course, cleaning up our taxis and buses – and getting people onto public transport – only gets us so far. My Action Plan also sets out how I will work with Government in order make it as easy as possible for Londoners to buy and use cleaner cars.
To ensure that happens, I will lobby Government for new powers to take dirty cars off our roads with a diesel scrappage scheme and with new powers to support the cleanest possible cars by using Vehicle Excise Duty – with real world emission labelling to help educate consumers and hold car companies to account.
My ambition is for all of London to be a pollution free zone as quickly as possible. So my Action Plan also sets put how I will immediately consult widely with London councils and local communities on how the Ultra Low Emission Zone can be strengthened, in tandem with rolling out cleaner car choices and public transport. I will facilitate a London-wide Boris Bike equivalent for electric cars and “Charging for London”: a new clean car infrastructure right across London.
Finally, as well as cleaning up our transport we need to clean up our energy system too. I’m proud to back Greenpeace’s campaign for a ten-fold revolution in solar power. If you back me on May 5th, I will clean up our air and also bring the power of the sun to over 200,000 London homes.