The Mayor of London today (Tuesday 27th February 2007) set out the first comprehensive plan to cut London's carbon emissions.

The Mayor’s Climate Change Action Plan - 'Action Today to Protect Tomorrow' - shows that Londoners don't have to reduce their quality of life to tackle climate change, but we do need to change the way we live. There must be a decisive shift from an economy in which large amounts of energy are produced, and large amounts wasted, to an economy in which energy is conserved.

The Action Plan demonstrates that cutting carbon emissions will also deliver financial benefits. By using energy less wastefully London’s economy will become more efficient and Londoners and London businesses will be better off through lower energy bills.

As part of today’s launch the Mayor announced a major programme of reducing Londoners’ energy bills which will start with the offer of cut-price loft and cavity wall insulation, available across the whole of London to every home that can benefit from it.

The offer will be free for Londoners on benefits. The Mayor launched four programmes which will form the basis of the Plan:

  • A Green Homes Programme
  • A Green Organisations Programme
  • A Green Energy Programme
  • A Green Transport Programme

He announced that £78 million will be reprioritised over three years within existing Greater London Authority finances this year to launch these programmes. The Action Plan also shows that, without action, London’s carbon emissions will grow from 44 million tonnes to 52 million tonnes by 2025.

Green Homes Programme - Homes are responsible for 38 per cent of emissions. The plan sets out how annual domestic carbon dioxide emissions can be reduced by 7.7 million tonnes by 2025. By making homes more energy efficient, the average London household could save £300 per year off their fuel bills, as well as cutting emissions.

The Mayor announced that he will be offering cut-price loft and cavity wall insulation, available across the whole of London to every home that can benefit from it. The offer will be totally free for people on benefits and we will particularly look to ensure that older Londoners can take advantage.

Green Organisations Programme - London's employers, both commercial and public sector, are responsible for 33 per cent of the capital’s emissions. If all of London’s employers introduced simple changes like turning off lights and IT equipment at night, emissions would be cut by over three million tonnes a year. Modest improvements to the energy efficiency of London’s commercial and public buildings would cut emissions by a further two million tonnes. If all of the actions in this Plan were implemented they would save employers up to 20 per cent on their energy bills.

Green Energy Programme - decentralised energy. It will not be possible for London to achieve its carbon reduction targets without a fundamental change in how energy is generated and supplied. The Action Plan sets a target to move a quarter of London’s energy supply off the National Grid and on to more efficient, local energy systems by 2025.

Green Transport Programme – Transport is responsible for 22 per cent of London’s emissions. The plan sets out how annual transport emissions can be cut by 4.3 million tonnes. CO2 emissions from road transport would fall by as much as 30 per cent if people simply bought the most fuel-efficient version of the car they want. This means stabilising London’s emissions in 2025 at 60 per cent below 1990 level.

Without action, London’s annual carbon emissions would instead grow from 44 million tonnes to 52 million tonnes by 2025. This means that by 2025 London must produce 33 million tonnes less of CO2 than its current levels - an annual emissions reduction of 4 per cent a year. 20 million tonnes of this reduction can be achieved through the actions set out in this Plan. A further 13 million tons requires additional national and international action.

The Action Plan sets out that the problem is not that new technologies are required but that the government needs to introduce comprehensive carbon pricing to encourage the faster take-up of existing energy efficiency measures.

Mayor of London Ken Livingstone said: ‘Londoners don't have to reduce their quality of life to tackle climate change, but we do need to change the way we live. The present model of high energy production and high energy waste is utterly inefficient. London, together with the rest of the world, must make a decisive shift to an economy in which energy is conserved, not wasted. By making London more carbon efficient we will cut emissions and put money back in Londoners’ pockets.

‘The actions set out in this plan are radical – the most comprehensive for any city I know. But they will need to be accompanied by further action from government. It is completely inadequate to simply talk about climate change or make purely token actions. This Plan sets out the beginning of a comprehensive programme to tackle climate change in London in the next twenty years.’

Friends of the Earth’s Director, Tony Juniper, said: ‘Hats off to Ken Livingstone for continuing to show political leadership on tackling climate change. The Government must now follow the Mayor’s lead and ensure that its forthcoming Climate Change Bill requires cuts in UK carbon dioxide emissions of at least three per cent every year. This will enable Mr Livingstone’s Climate Change Action Plan to meet its targets and encourage the rest of the country to follow suit.’

John Sauven, director of Greenpeace, said: ‘Ken Livingstone is showing how the largest city in Europe can combat climate change. No other leader is on the same page.

‘The Government talks about cutting emissions, but is unwilling to confront the vested interests in the power sector, the building industry, the aviation lobby and the motor industry. Ken Livingstone is prepared to lead and take risks in responding to the challenge of climate change. ‘The targets set in this report are demanding, but can be met with existing technologies.

The Mayor is showing in London what is possible. Central government has yet to take such decisive steps.’ Siân Berry, Green Party Principal Speaker said: ‘This action plan cannot be implemented too soon. Greens in London will be working hard with the Mayor to make sure that the ideas in the plan are actually brought in, not left on the shelf marked 'fine words'. ‘We are one of the most vulnerable cities to the effects of climate change. In the past six years, the Thames Barrier, built to defend London from flooding, has been raised a staggering 56 times, compared with just three times in first six years after in was built in the 1980s. ‘We can lead the way with our actions in London, but curbing aviation growth and bringing radical policies like personal carbon allowances are down to central government. We need to see a real change at the top.’

Nicky Gavron Deputy Mayor of London said: ‘ Cities have got to take the centre stage when it comes to combating climate change and London’s leadership is crucial. Cities consume three quarters of the world’s energy and are responsible for 75 per cent of all carbon emissions. Therefore we will fail in our efforts if the trend in cities is not reversed. Through our planning policies and the London Climate Change Agency we are spearheading a decentralised energy revolution. The government needs to remove the barriers currently holding back the roll out of decentralised energy and large-scale production of renewable gases and liquid fuel from waste. Remote centralised power stations are the single biggest barrier to reducing London's carbon emissions.’