Reaching zero carbon in London by 2030

Questions to the Mayor of London – answered on 11th June 2021.

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Photo of Zack Polanski Zack Polanski Green

What new actions are you now taking to put London on course to reach zero carbon by 2030?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

Can I congratulate you on your election? Many of the actions needed to reach this goal are laid out in my 1.5C [Compatible] Climate Action Plan. My London Plan is requiring developers to go well beyond national building regulations and we need to retrofit existing buildings at scale and support a clean energy system. We also need to increase active travel, decarbonise public transport and switch to electric vehicles.

We have no time to waste, which is why I have brought London’s net zero carbon target forward to 2030. My focus is on accelerating climate action, whilst bringing Londoners new job opportunities and skills and boosting our green economy. I am also supporting new replicable approaches through the Green New Deal Fund and the whole life cycle emissions policy of the London Plan and tackling consumption-based emissions through reducing food waste in partnership with ReLondon. Retrofitting existing buildings remains one of the biggest challenges. To accelerate action, I have helped to secure £160 million to reduce carbon emissions and cut energy bills from homes and public buildings.

Tackling transport emissions through active travel and electric vehicles is also a priority. There has been a 20-fold increase in electric buses since I was first elected. London now has the largest fleet of its kind in Western Europe and I am making the case to the Government for funding to bring forward our target for all buses to be electric by 2030. We will soon be powering the Tube, London’s biggest single energy user, with green energy through a power purchase agreement. I am working with TfL, the DfT and London Councils to identify land for installing electric vehicle charge points.

However, I have power to deliver less than half of the carbon savings needed. To deliver the remainder, the Government must act on areas it controls, such as setting strong decarbonisation requirements for existing buildings and/or devolving powers and funding so that London can go further and faster.

Photo of Zack Polanski Zack Polanski Green

Thank you, Mr Mayor, and thank you for your kind words on my election. Congratulations to you as well.

I applaud much of what you said on the list and it was really good to hear your focus on retrofitting, too. I am determined, as someone elected across London to represent all Londoners, to push you further and faster when I believe that there are gaps in your plan. With that being said, we have only nine years left to get to zero carbon by 2030.  I am determined to work collaboratively and cross-party on this Assembly.

How do you think we can all work together cross-party more collaboratively both as an Assembly and with you as the Mayor, to bring in the more grown-up politics to stop runaway climate change?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

Firstly, the good news is - I do not want to make Siân [Berry AM] or Caroline [Russell AM] blush, but they have worked really closely over the last five years and have been critical allies, as is their job, making sure that we work together when there is opposition from other people and also to challenge me. That is your job.

Actually, one of the things that we have done over the last three years in particular is accelerate the progress made because of the concern we have. I have said this publicly in a number of the debates Siân and I had over the last three months. The Greens can take a lot of credit for that. It is really important for us to take the public with us. The good news is - and Caroline was at the first speech I gave on this at Great Ormond Street [Hospital] - Londoners are now where they should be, whereas seven or eight years ago there would have been a public education role for us to play. That public education is there. What we see now is young Londoners putting pressure on mums and dads and carers and saying, “Go further”. That is a good place to be.

The key thing we can work together on is lobbying the Government. COP26 is an opportunity we will not get again. It is in Glasgow. That is a real opportunity. I am hoping that, working with Andy Street [Mayor of the West Midlands] and others across the country, who are from a different party and appear to get it, we can make really good progress here, but we really have to seize this year as the time to do it.

Photo of Zack Polanski Zack Polanski Green

Yes, I agree with much of that. It is really nice to hear that you want a different kind of politics as well. Your focus on young people is really important. In the last few years, I have been out on the streets regularly with community organisers, young people and climate strikers.

I was really disappointed at one point when you said that we needed to get back to business as usual. You would agree that business as usual has partly got us into this mess of runaway climate change. One idea is a citizens’ assembly. I know you have said in the past this would not be appropriate for London because you think it should be a national thing, but considering COP26 is on its way, all the eyes of the world are on London. Can you, as the London Mayor, bring in a London citizens’ assembly that could show what we can do to get to zero carbon by 2030 as one of the greatest cities in the world, to be a real example to the rest of the world?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

You do yourself a disservice thinking you are not somebody who is a citizen who can make representations to the Mayor and to the Assembly. I hope you are not going to make yourself redundant. You have a very important role to make sure that the views you are talking about are heard by the Assembly or by the GLA ‑‑

Photo of Zack Polanski Zack Polanski Green

Can I gently challenge that? I totally accept that. I see us as a conduit, listening to the people on the ground and then bringing what they want to say into this Chamber, but would it not be good to also listen to them and have their voices in City Hall as well as in a citizens’ assembly?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

As this is your first Mayor’s Question Time, I will allow you to interrupt me when I have not finished.  It will not happen again. It is really important for us to see where there have been examples of assemblies that have worked. Camden is one example of a borough that has piloted this. I am really keen to see the experience they have and many others. I met recently with London Citizens, as I do on a regular basis. They bring a lot to the table. There are lots of examples of citizens across London who have their views heard loudly and clearly in the Assembly. As the Mayor, I will continue to find other ways to engage with Londoners, listen to Londoners, and take them with me.

Photo of Zack Polanski Zack Polanski Green

I cannot wait to work with you on that.

Photo of Andrew Boff Andrew Boff Conservative

Thank you, Assembly Member Polanski. Just for the record, I am the one who allows him to interrupt.