A climate-friendly mayor could help to deliver over 79,000 new jobs including e-bike makers, heat pump fitters, and solar energy planners. This would protect workers and communities from unemployment and help shift London’s economy towards one which is low-carbon, nature-rich and creates less waste.
They could also finally help Londoners to stop living in homes that are freezers in winter and ovens in the summer, by ensuring that existing homes are fitted with new insulation and new housing developments are built to exacting standards on energy efficiency. This would cut emissions and lead to lower bills – great news for the thousands of people in the city living in fuel poverty.
The Mayor of London could also make the city region greener in a more literal sense. Street trees would make our city more beautiful, give us more shade in the summer, and bring more birds and other animals into our lives. By focussing investment on green space in the most deprived areas the mayor could go some way to balancing out the inequality that sees rich Londoners awash with parks and woodland while poorer ones struggle to access anything green.
A London that’s more climate-friendly would also facilitate fairer decisions, by ensuring that those who are most impacted by climate breakdown, nature loss, and social crises including poverty are put front and centre and given a voice in decision making.
Making London a climate-friendly city would also make it healthier. Mayoral investment in travel options such as more cycleways, wider pavements, and public transport networks that work for everyone would cut emissions from transport, clean up the air we breathe, and help us get our exercise in. We can’t leave anyone out of this so any plans for transport and active travel must factor in access needs for disabled people, including dropped kerbs with tactile markers on the pavement at crossing points.
London is facing a future with huge new projects that would be disastrous for the planet including the proposed third runway at Heathrow Airport, and potential expansion of London City Airport. These plans go completely against the UK’s promise to do its part in the international work against the climate crisis, and a Mayor of London who’s committed to a healthy planet would stand firmly against them. A climate-friendly mayor would also use their power to scrap the pending climate disaster that is the Silvertown road tunnel. The focus instead should stay firmly on projects that will cut down on road traffic levels and boost clean travel options like trains and buses. This would include extending the ULEZ to cover the whole of Greater London, further cutting carbon emissions from traffic and giving communities everywhere cleaner air.
Not only can the mayor take direct responsibility for reducing London’s climate impact from areas like transport and energy, they can also put the pressure on national government by showing where the priorities of the people are and how we expect these to be echoed nationally and internationally.
Ted Burke is London campaigns organiser at Friends of the Earth
Head to takeclimateaction.uk to read more about Friends of the Earth’s Climate Action Plan for the next Mayor of London, and for information on how to get involved in your community.