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10 green business ideas for London's next
mayor
BusinessGreen, 08/03/2016
(http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/blog-post/2450101/10-green-business-ideas-for-londons-next-mayor)
The next London mayor will have the power to put rocket boosters under the
entire UK's green economy - here are 10 proposals that could turn the capital into
a low carbon powerhouse
What do green businesses want from the next London Mayor? That was the
question tackled at a fascinating event hosted by the Aldersgate Group last week
that I was lucky enough to chair. And coincidentally it is one of the questions I've
been asked to consider ahead of a meeting of the London Assembly's
Environment Committee this Wednesday that I'll be taking part in.
It is a not inconsequential question. Rightly or wrongly London remains the UK's
primary economic engine and as such is also disproportionately important to the
health of the country's green economy. Moreover, the Mayor is in many regards a
more powerful politician than the vast majority of the cabinet, boasting control
over a host of planning, housing, transport, health, policing and environmental
policies, not to mention a £17bn budget. A mayor unequivocally committed to
turning Europe's only mega-city into one of the world's greenest metropolises
would have a huge impact on the prospects for hundreds if not thousands of
green businesses.
But in a mayoral race where all the leading candidates appear to be in complete
agreement on the need for ambitious environmental policies what specific
policies and projects does the green business community need from the next
resident of City Hall, be it the Conservative MP and former editor of the Ecologist
or the Labour MP who wants to be the greenest mayor London has ever had?
The Aldersgate Group event and its expert panel put forward a raft of suggestions
the next mayor should consider and the group will soon be putting together
some specific green business asks for the next mayor on behalf of its members.
However, below are 10 ideas that caught my imagination and could really help
secure London a position as a green business hub following eight years under
Mayor Boris that have seen encouraging environmental progress repeatedly
undermined by inadequate action on air pollution and occasional column-filling
flirtations with climate sceptics.
1. Create Europe's premier clean tech cluster
The keynote address last week was delivered by former climate change minister
and chair of the London Sustainable Development Commission, Lord Barker, who
revealed one of his priorities for the new Mayor was the creation of a genuinely
world-leading clean tech hub in West London at the site of the giant Old Oak
Common development. For Barker, the proximity of Imperial College's new
campus and the imminent HS2 link make the site the perfect location for
repeating the success of Silicon Roundabout, only this time with clean tech
instead of digital innovation, and in West London instead of East.
Whether clusters are consciously made by politicians or successfully nurtured
once a combination of geographical, social, and commercial factors have
inadvertently created an industrial hub is still open to debate, as is the suitability
of West London for an entirely new clean tech cluster. Some will argue it is better
to build on fledgling existing clean tech hubs around London Bridge, Canary
Wharf, and (further afield) the Cambridge corridor, than start from scratch.
But whatever the new Mayor decides Lord Barker's core contention remains
valid; technology clusters accelerate commercial development and act as
invaluable crucibles for R&D and entrepreneurship. The new Mayor should do
everything in their power to deliver a large-scale London clean tech cluster, and
then use their unique platform to sing its praises around the world.
2. Make all new roofs green roofs
One of the biggest policy levers the Mayor has is over planning and the
opportunity to require all new developments to feature the latest green
innovations should not be passed up. London will never claim the title of one of
the world's greenest cities if it does not ensure all its new buildings are built to
the highest environmental standards. The government's short-sighted decision
to scrap zero carbon building rules on spurious cost grounds and its continued
failure to support wider adoption of Merton Rule style renewable energy
requirements creates an opportunity for the new Mayor to set London apart from
the rest of the UK when it comes to green building codes.
Claudine Blamey, head of sustainability and stewardship at Crown Estate, which
has pioneered the use of green roofs on its West End estate, said there was the
potential to make every new roof a green roof and transform the city's
biodiversity in the process. A similar argument can be made for installing rooftop
solar arrays on all new buildings.
The argument against such policies always boils down to concerns about costs in
a city where property prices are already stratospheric. But as Duncan Price,
director of sustainability at BuroHappold Engineering, argued, when land values
are as high as they are in London it should, in some ways, become easier to justify
investment in the latest technology. Moreover, it is about time a top politician
recognised that using short term cost concerns to reject green building
technologies that save residents money in the long run is actually a damning
indictment of the failure of the mortgage market to offer green loans.
3. Get serious about the circular economy
In addition to calling for a clean tech cluster, Lord Barker also argued for the next
mayor to step up efforts to deliver a circular economy in a city where recycling
rates remain embarrassingly low.
The problem is politicians, including all the mayoral candidates, are more
comfortable hymning the virtues of a circular economy than delivering the
detailed policies that will deliver one. To take just one example, all the
candidates last week rejected the idea of the Mayor's Office taking control over
recycling from the city's many local authorities. But if Waste Minister Rory
Stewart is right to declare that it is "crazy" for the UK to have 300 different
recycling systems, what does that make a single city with over 30 different
recycling systems? Virtually insane, if you ask me.
It is sensible politics for the new Mayor not to pick a fight with local authorities
before he or she has been elected. But thereafter something needs to be done
about a situation where one street gets food waste recycling, and the next street
over doesn't. The current scenario is wasteful, confusing, and a constant drag on
recycling rates. A unified approach to recycling has to be delivered, as does a
credible vision for creating a truly zero waste city.
Another example: Green procurement standards might not be the kind of policy
to get voters' pulses racing, but it is one of the most powerful levers the mayor
has for driving environmental improvements. Resource efficiency should become
a cornerstone for every purchasing deal the Mayor's Office signs, and if that
means an end to Boris era vanity projects, such as the flawed Routemaster and
the laughable Garden Bridge, then so be it.
4. Get smart about the potential for a smart city
As BT's Andrew Campling pointed out last week, London has never had a chief
digital officer, which is a staggering omission when you think about how
important modern digital infrastructure should be to the operation of a modern
metropolis. The new Mayor should appoint a digital lead as soon as possible and
task them with delivering an ambitious smart city strategy that harnesses all the
latest transport, environment, waste, and building data to start to optimise the
hugely complex resource flows that define the city.
The technology exists now to harness the power of data to curb congestion,
tackle air pollution hotspots, make car sharing and electric vehicles ever more
attractive, co-ordinate delivery vehicles to slash emissions, and optimise the
energy efficiency of every building in the city. But without a clear city-wide
strategy at the outset of this exciting technology revolution there is once again
the risk over 30 different smart city strategies, siloed in every local authority, and
drawing on over 30 different data sets.
The new mayor also needs to deliver a much more coherent position on the
sharing economy smart technology and modern apps are enabling. Uber and
AirBnB are just the tip of a hugely exciting and disruptive iceberg; the next Mayor
has to recognise that questions about how this fast-expanding sector should be
regulated and taxed are not about to go away.
5. Nurture the green City of London
The City of London remains the UK's premier economic muscle and potentially its
most exposed Achilles heel in the event of another financial crash. It is also an oft-
ignored hub of green business innovation, providing a home to a wide array of
green investment vehicles, environmentally-focused legal and financial services,
and cutting edge climate change thinking, such as the increasingly influential
carbon bubble hypothesis.
The new Mayor has the opportunity to nurture this considerable potential
through a combination of public rhetoric and policy backing. Specifically, FTSE
Group's Mark Makepeace argued the new Mayor should wade into the debate
about corporate environmental reporting and take steps to ensure investors get
the comprehensive sustainability data they need.
There is also a huge opportunity for a proactive climate-savvy mayor to
champion the carbon bubble theory?, get London's pension funds out of fossil
fuels, launch green infrastructure bonds, and challenge once and for all the idea
that community energy investment is the preserve of middle class villages by
properly promoting renewables crowdfunding opportunities in the capital.
6. Make good on distributed energy promises
All of the mayoral candidates have had encouraging things to say about the need
to turn London from a laggard to a leader on solar power, but details on how
precisely this will be achieved remain sketchy.
Proposals for a city-wide body for auditing building's suitability for solar power is
a step in the right direction, but there has to be a recognition of the logistical
challenges that have seen London fail to embrace solar power in the first place,
not to mention policies that will overcome the blow the sector has received from
deep and premature subsidy cuts. Planning rules can play an important role in
driving solar adoption, but that alone is unlikely to be enough.
Moreover, there needs to be recognition from the mayor that distributed energy
is about a lot more than solar. A London solar strategy is welcome, but similar
strategic thinking is required for renewable heat, energy from waste, fuel cells,
kinetic power technologies, and, of course, the smart grid systems that help
make them increasingly viable. You won't turn London into a clean tech hub
unless you take concerted action to drive demand for emerging clean
technologies.
7. Deliver ECO for London (or something similar)
One of the most notable aspects of Lord Barker's keynote address last week was
the admission that as the former minister in charge of energy efficiency he regrets
the failure to ensure the ECO retrofit scheme recognised the unique challenges
faced by London properties. The simple reality is undertaking much needed
energy efficiency upgrade work in London is more expensive than in every other
part of the country, and as a result the capital struggled to get its fair share of
ECO funding as energy companies understandably targeted more cost effective
projects. Throw the notoriously poor quality of a large chunk of London's private
rented sector into the mix and the capital has a serious domestic energy
efficiency challenge on its hands.
Barker argued the new Mayor has to get straight on the phone to his former DECC
colleague Amber Rudd and demand that the soon to be revamped ECO scheme
addresses the London issue. But a truly green mayor needs to go much further
still in tackling the capital's all too often cold and damp homes. With conversions
and extensions a familiar feature on any London street it is time to dust off the
disgracefully shelved and unfairly right wing mediabranded ‘conservatory tax'.
Again, a proper green mortgage programme that residents could pay for through
resulting energy bill savings should neutralise concerns about upfront costs.
8. Face up to the coming reckoning on road pricing and air pollution
Once again, Mayor Boris got lucky. He was able to kick the need to reinvigorate
the congestion charge far enough down the increasingly congested and polluted
road to make it into his successor's problem. That successor will now have to
deliver rapid progress to tackle congestion and air quality or watch the
expanding city grind to a halt, while legal action against the government's air
strategy piles up.
There are encouraging signs from all the candidates that they recognise the need
to address the air crisis and some bold ideas for tackling it, ranging from the
pedestrianisation of Oxford Street to the rapid roll out of greener taxis and buses
and yet more investment in cycling. But none of these measures will be sufficient
to bring London in line with the EU standards it continues to breach (and even if
we leave the EU, as Goldsmith advocates, it seems unlikely he would be happy
about the city's air continuing to kill its citizens).
As the Environmental Industries Commission argued recently, bolder action is
needed on a host of fronts, including the phase out of diesel vehicles, cleaner
building sites, and pollution capturing surfaces. Moreover, it seems inevitable the
congestion charging nettle will have to be grasped at some point and the golden
rule of electoral politics dictates if you have to do something controversial but
necessary you are best off doing it early in your term.
9. Think bigger
If recent history is any guide anyone running for mayor will be hoping for at least
two terms to deliver on their vision. Here's a slightly scary thought: if the next
mayor does serve for eight years they will have been responsible for the capital
for just shy of a quarter of the remaining time the UK has to deliver on its legally
binding goal of cutting emission 80 per cent against 1990 levels by 2050. It is also
worth noting that both the frontrunners, Khan and Goldsmith, are just about
young enough to, all being well, offer their reflections as political greybeards in
2050 on how we hit the target or why we missed it.
Post-Paris Agreement, the time from the encouraging, but always insufficient,
incrementalism of the Johnson and Livingstone approach to climate change and
the environment is over. The next mayor has a responsibility to take a sizeable
step towards deliver a net zero emission, pretty much fully decarbonised city.
To that end it is time for some big picture thinking from the next Mayor. David
Symons of WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff argued the capital could be made all
electric by 2035, bringing an end to air pollution and slashing carbon emissions
before a child born today leaves their teenage years. Others on the panel argued
there should be nothing to stop the capital joining the RE100 initiative and
pledging to source 100 per cent renewable power. Similarly bold yet credible
pledges on zero waste and climate resilience are also needed. But most of all the
Mayor needs a credible long term plan to create a net zero emission metropolis –
a plan that given eight years they could go a long way to delivering.
10. Become a champion for climate action
Which brings me to my final idea. Over and above the necessary green policy
measures the new mayor must embrace, they must also become an unequivocal
champion of climate action and the green economy. In an era where the Prime
Minister favours triangulation on environmental issues over the green positioning
that helped him get elected, the Chancellor is all too frequently openly hostile to
green concerns, and the Labour leadership looks more disconnected from the
electorate than ever, the role of the UK's premier political climate champion
remains tragically vacant. It is a job opportunity the new Mayor must seize.
Imagine the invigorating effect on green business and investor confidence you
would see if the next Mayor consciously emulated the likes of Barack Obama,
Governor Schwarzenegger, and Mayor Bloomberg by using every opportunity to
talk up the potential of the green economy and hammer home the importance of
climate action.
Imagine a Mayor who instead of responding to reports Oxford Street is one of the
most polluted highways in the world by engaging in a row over the precise
metrics, acknowledged there was a major public health crisis underway and
vowed to redouble efforts to embrace the cleaner technologies that will solve the
problem.
Imagine a mayor who eschewed the temptation to use their considerable
platform to pander to their party's wilder fringe, in favour of repeatedly making
the case to ministers and the wider public for the kind of truly bold
environmental leadership a city as great as London deserves.
In the 19th century, London was the first city in the world to systemically tackle
the sanitation crisis. In the 20th century, it was the first major city to tackle the
smog crisis that enveloped London's streets so completely that grimy fogs still
shapes the popular imagination of the capital. In the 21st century London has the
potential to be one of the first cities to full address the climate crisis. But it is
going to take a lot, lot more than a few thousand Boris bikes.

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10 green business ideas for London

  • 1. 10 green business ideas for London's next mayor BusinessGreen, 08/03/2016 (http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/blog-post/2450101/10-green-business-ideas-for-londons-next-mayor) The next London mayor will have the power to put rocket boosters under the entire UK's green economy - here are 10 proposals that could turn the capital into a low carbon powerhouse What do green businesses want from the next London Mayor? That was the question tackled at a fascinating event hosted by the Aldersgate Group last week that I was lucky enough to chair. And coincidentally it is one of the questions I've been asked to consider ahead of a meeting of the London Assembly's Environment Committee this Wednesday that I'll be taking part in. It is a not inconsequential question. Rightly or wrongly London remains the UK's primary economic engine and as such is also disproportionately important to the health of the country's green economy. Moreover, the Mayor is in many regards a more powerful politician than the vast majority of the cabinet, boasting control over a host of planning, housing, transport, health, policing and environmental policies, not to mention a £17bn budget. A mayor unequivocally committed to turning Europe's only mega-city into one of the world's greenest metropolises would have a huge impact on the prospects for hundreds if not thousands of green businesses. But in a mayoral race where all the leading candidates appear to be in complete agreement on the need for ambitious environmental policies what specific policies and projects does the green business community need from the next resident of City Hall, be it the Conservative MP and former editor of the Ecologist or the Labour MP who wants to be the greenest mayor London has ever had? The Aldersgate Group event and its expert panel put forward a raft of suggestions the next mayor should consider and the group will soon be putting together some specific green business asks for the next mayor on behalf of its members. However, below are 10 ideas that caught my imagination and could really help secure London a position as a green business hub following eight years under Mayor Boris that have seen encouraging environmental progress repeatedly undermined by inadequate action on air pollution and occasional column-filling flirtations with climate sceptics. 1. Create Europe's premier clean tech cluster
  • 2. The keynote address last week was delivered by former climate change minister and chair of the London Sustainable Development Commission, Lord Barker, who revealed one of his priorities for the new Mayor was the creation of a genuinely world-leading clean tech hub in West London at the site of the giant Old Oak Common development. For Barker, the proximity of Imperial College's new campus and the imminent HS2 link make the site the perfect location for repeating the success of Silicon Roundabout, only this time with clean tech instead of digital innovation, and in West London instead of East. Whether clusters are consciously made by politicians or successfully nurtured once a combination of geographical, social, and commercial factors have inadvertently created an industrial hub is still open to debate, as is the suitability of West London for an entirely new clean tech cluster. Some will argue it is better to build on fledgling existing clean tech hubs around London Bridge, Canary Wharf, and (further afield) the Cambridge corridor, than start from scratch. But whatever the new Mayor decides Lord Barker's core contention remains valid; technology clusters accelerate commercial development and act as invaluable crucibles for R&D and entrepreneurship. The new Mayor should do everything in their power to deliver a large-scale London clean tech cluster, and then use their unique platform to sing its praises around the world. 2. Make all new roofs green roofs One of the biggest policy levers the Mayor has is over planning and the opportunity to require all new developments to feature the latest green innovations should not be passed up. London will never claim the title of one of the world's greenest cities if it does not ensure all its new buildings are built to the highest environmental standards. The government's short-sighted decision to scrap zero carbon building rules on spurious cost grounds and its continued failure to support wider adoption of Merton Rule style renewable energy requirements creates an opportunity for the new Mayor to set London apart from the rest of the UK when it comes to green building codes. Claudine Blamey, head of sustainability and stewardship at Crown Estate, which has pioneered the use of green roofs on its West End estate, said there was the potential to make every new roof a green roof and transform the city's biodiversity in the process. A similar argument can be made for installing rooftop solar arrays on all new buildings. The argument against such policies always boils down to concerns about costs in a city where property prices are already stratospheric. But as Duncan Price, director of sustainability at BuroHappold Engineering, argued, when land values are as high as they are in London it should, in some ways, become easier to justify
  • 3. investment in the latest technology. Moreover, it is about time a top politician recognised that using short term cost concerns to reject green building technologies that save residents money in the long run is actually a damning indictment of the failure of the mortgage market to offer green loans. 3. Get serious about the circular economy In addition to calling for a clean tech cluster, Lord Barker also argued for the next mayor to step up efforts to deliver a circular economy in a city where recycling rates remain embarrassingly low. The problem is politicians, including all the mayoral candidates, are more comfortable hymning the virtues of a circular economy than delivering the detailed policies that will deliver one. To take just one example, all the candidates last week rejected the idea of the Mayor's Office taking control over recycling from the city's many local authorities. But if Waste Minister Rory Stewart is right to declare that it is "crazy" for the UK to have 300 different recycling systems, what does that make a single city with over 30 different recycling systems? Virtually insane, if you ask me. It is sensible politics for the new Mayor not to pick a fight with local authorities before he or she has been elected. But thereafter something needs to be done about a situation where one street gets food waste recycling, and the next street over doesn't. The current scenario is wasteful, confusing, and a constant drag on recycling rates. A unified approach to recycling has to be delivered, as does a credible vision for creating a truly zero waste city. Another example: Green procurement standards might not be the kind of policy to get voters' pulses racing, but it is one of the most powerful levers the mayor has for driving environmental improvements. Resource efficiency should become a cornerstone for every purchasing deal the Mayor's Office signs, and if that means an end to Boris era vanity projects, such as the flawed Routemaster and the laughable Garden Bridge, then so be it. 4. Get smart about the potential for a smart city As BT's Andrew Campling pointed out last week, London has never had a chief digital officer, which is a staggering omission when you think about how important modern digital infrastructure should be to the operation of a modern metropolis. The new Mayor should appoint a digital lead as soon as possible and task them with delivering an ambitious smart city strategy that harnesses all the latest transport, environment, waste, and building data to start to optimise the hugely complex resource flows that define the city.
  • 4. The technology exists now to harness the power of data to curb congestion, tackle air pollution hotspots, make car sharing and electric vehicles ever more attractive, co-ordinate delivery vehicles to slash emissions, and optimise the energy efficiency of every building in the city. But without a clear city-wide strategy at the outset of this exciting technology revolution there is once again the risk over 30 different smart city strategies, siloed in every local authority, and drawing on over 30 different data sets. The new mayor also needs to deliver a much more coherent position on the sharing economy smart technology and modern apps are enabling. Uber and AirBnB are just the tip of a hugely exciting and disruptive iceberg; the next Mayor has to recognise that questions about how this fast-expanding sector should be regulated and taxed are not about to go away. 5. Nurture the green City of London The City of London remains the UK's premier economic muscle and potentially its most exposed Achilles heel in the event of another financial crash. It is also an oft- ignored hub of green business innovation, providing a home to a wide array of green investment vehicles, environmentally-focused legal and financial services, and cutting edge climate change thinking, such as the increasingly influential carbon bubble hypothesis. The new Mayor has the opportunity to nurture this considerable potential through a combination of public rhetoric and policy backing. Specifically, FTSE Group's Mark Makepeace argued the new Mayor should wade into the debate about corporate environmental reporting and take steps to ensure investors get the comprehensive sustainability data they need. There is also a huge opportunity for a proactive climate-savvy mayor to champion the carbon bubble theory?, get London's pension funds out of fossil fuels, launch green infrastructure bonds, and challenge once and for all the idea that community energy investment is the preserve of middle class villages by properly promoting renewables crowdfunding opportunities in the capital. 6. Make good on distributed energy promises All of the mayoral candidates have had encouraging things to say about the need to turn London from a laggard to a leader on solar power, but details on how precisely this will be achieved remain sketchy. Proposals for a city-wide body for auditing building's suitability for solar power is a step in the right direction, but there has to be a recognition of the logistical challenges that have seen London fail to embrace solar power in the first place,
  • 5. not to mention policies that will overcome the blow the sector has received from deep and premature subsidy cuts. Planning rules can play an important role in driving solar adoption, but that alone is unlikely to be enough. Moreover, there needs to be recognition from the mayor that distributed energy is about a lot more than solar. A London solar strategy is welcome, but similar strategic thinking is required for renewable heat, energy from waste, fuel cells, kinetic power technologies, and, of course, the smart grid systems that help make them increasingly viable. You won't turn London into a clean tech hub unless you take concerted action to drive demand for emerging clean technologies. 7. Deliver ECO for London (or something similar) One of the most notable aspects of Lord Barker's keynote address last week was the admission that as the former minister in charge of energy efficiency he regrets the failure to ensure the ECO retrofit scheme recognised the unique challenges faced by London properties. The simple reality is undertaking much needed energy efficiency upgrade work in London is more expensive than in every other part of the country, and as a result the capital struggled to get its fair share of ECO funding as energy companies understandably targeted more cost effective projects. Throw the notoriously poor quality of a large chunk of London's private rented sector into the mix and the capital has a serious domestic energy efficiency challenge on its hands. Barker argued the new Mayor has to get straight on the phone to his former DECC colleague Amber Rudd and demand that the soon to be revamped ECO scheme addresses the London issue. But a truly green mayor needs to go much further still in tackling the capital's all too often cold and damp homes. With conversions and extensions a familiar feature on any London street it is time to dust off the disgracefully shelved and unfairly right wing mediabranded ‘conservatory tax'. Again, a proper green mortgage programme that residents could pay for through resulting energy bill savings should neutralise concerns about upfront costs. 8. Face up to the coming reckoning on road pricing and air pollution Once again, Mayor Boris got lucky. He was able to kick the need to reinvigorate the congestion charge far enough down the increasingly congested and polluted road to make it into his successor's problem. That successor will now have to deliver rapid progress to tackle congestion and air quality or watch the expanding city grind to a halt, while legal action against the government's air strategy piles up.
  • 6. There are encouraging signs from all the candidates that they recognise the need to address the air crisis and some bold ideas for tackling it, ranging from the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street to the rapid roll out of greener taxis and buses and yet more investment in cycling. But none of these measures will be sufficient to bring London in line with the EU standards it continues to breach (and even if we leave the EU, as Goldsmith advocates, it seems unlikely he would be happy about the city's air continuing to kill its citizens). As the Environmental Industries Commission argued recently, bolder action is needed on a host of fronts, including the phase out of diesel vehicles, cleaner building sites, and pollution capturing surfaces. Moreover, it seems inevitable the congestion charging nettle will have to be grasped at some point and the golden rule of electoral politics dictates if you have to do something controversial but necessary you are best off doing it early in your term. 9. Think bigger If recent history is any guide anyone running for mayor will be hoping for at least two terms to deliver on their vision. Here's a slightly scary thought: if the next mayor does serve for eight years they will have been responsible for the capital for just shy of a quarter of the remaining time the UK has to deliver on its legally binding goal of cutting emission 80 per cent against 1990 levels by 2050. It is also worth noting that both the frontrunners, Khan and Goldsmith, are just about young enough to, all being well, offer their reflections as political greybeards in 2050 on how we hit the target or why we missed it. Post-Paris Agreement, the time from the encouraging, but always insufficient, incrementalism of the Johnson and Livingstone approach to climate change and the environment is over. The next mayor has a responsibility to take a sizeable step towards deliver a net zero emission, pretty much fully decarbonised city. To that end it is time for some big picture thinking from the next Mayor. David Symons of WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff argued the capital could be made all electric by 2035, bringing an end to air pollution and slashing carbon emissions before a child born today leaves their teenage years. Others on the panel argued there should be nothing to stop the capital joining the RE100 initiative and pledging to source 100 per cent renewable power. Similarly bold yet credible pledges on zero waste and climate resilience are also needed. But most of all the Mayor needs a credible long term plan to create a net zero emission metropolis – a plan that given eight years they could go a long way to delivering. 10. Become a champion for climate action
  • 7. Which brings me to my final idea. Over and above the necessary green policy measures the new mayor must embrace, they must also become an unequivocal champion of climate action and the green economy. In an era where the Prime Minister favours triangulation on environmental issues over the green positioning that helped him get elected, the Chancellor is all too frequently openly hostile to green concerns, and the Labour leadership looks more disconnected from the electorate than ever, the role of the UK's premier political climate champion remains tragically vacant. It is a job opportunity the new Mayor must seize. Imagine the invigorating effect on green business and investor confidence you would see if the next Mayor consciously emulated the likes of Barack Obama, Governor Schwarzenegger, and Mayor Bloomberg by using every opportunity to talk up the potential of the green economy and hammer home the importance of climate action. Imagine a Mayor who instead of responding to reports Oxford Street is one of the most polluted highways in the world by engaging in a row over the precise metrics, acknowledged there was a major public health crisis underway and vowed to redouble efforts to embrace the cleaner technologies that will solve the problem. Imagine a mayor who eschewed the temptation to use their considerable platform to pander to their party's wilder fringe, in favour of repeatedly making the case to ministers and the wider public for the kind of truly bold environmental leadership a city as great as London deserves. In the 19th century, London was the first city in the world to systemically tackle the sanitation crisis. In the 20th century, it was the first major city to tackle the smog crisis that enveloped London's streets so completely that grimy fogs still shapes the popular imagination of the capital. In the 21st century London has the potential to be one of the first cities to full address the climate crisis. But it is going to take a lot, lot more than a few thousand Boris bikes.