London Mayor Sadiq Khan presented his Environment Strategy to the London Assembly late last week in which he set out his vision to make London the greenest city in the world, focusing on clean air, greener streets, reducing waste, tackling climate change – and his signature aim of becoming a zero-carbon city and at least 50 per cent green by 2050.
Mayor Khan first unveiled his green plans back in August of 2017 with his draft Environment Strategy, which at the time sought to turn the city into the world’s first National Park City by dramatically increasing the number and breadth of parkland in the city, as well as protecting the city’s existing Green Belt.
“London is home to outstanding green spaces that I want to protect, invest in and improve as we aim to become the world’s first National Park City,” Sadiq Khan said at the time.
The popular and outspoken Mayor has also set in place an Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEV), which will begin in central London in just under a year’s time and which is intended to reduce air pollution and harmful emissions from up to 60,000 vehicles a day.
Beyond central London, Khan is also hoping to expand the ULEV to include North and South circular roads for all vehicles.
Fast-forward to today, however, and the Mayor presented his final Environment Strategy to the London Assembly for consideration before its final publication in the coming weeks.
The Strategy will target London’s levels of toxic air pollution and increase its green cover, while moving towards becoming a zero-carbon city by 2050 with a combination of energy-efficient buildings, clean transport and energy, and increased recycling.
In addition to the city’s continued efforts to stem its pollution levels – an unfortunate by-product of a city the size of London – and its moves to become the world’s first National Park City, the new Environment Strategy has a number of other goals at its heart.
These include cutting food waste by 50 per cent per person by 2030; increasing the city’s solar capacity by 20 times, with 1GW installed across the city by 2030 and 2GW by 2050; and implementing carbon budgets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in London over the next 15 years.
The carbon budgets, specifically, will aim to reduce emissions by 40 per cent from 1990 levels between 2018 and 2022 – a reduction larger than the one set by the UK government, and in compliance with the Paris Climate Agreement’s ambitions of limiting global climate change to 1.5°C.
“I’m delighted that so many Londoners have got involved and given their feedback on the future of London’s environment,” Khan, said. “In order to protect it for future generations, we must take tough action now – we have already done some fantastic work, but there is lots more to do, and we need all Londoners, and the government, to play their part.
“This strategy sets out my plans to clean up our filthy air with bold new air quality measures, tackle waste and promote cleaner energy so we can make London a healthier city that adapts to the impacts of climate change. We must also protect, improve and add to our outstanding green spaces as we aim to become the world’s first National Park City.
“By continuing to invest in our environment and work with boroughs and communities, we can improve the health and wellbeing of everyone living in London,” he said.
London’s air pollution has always been a sticking point for Khan, and his new strategy entails several policies intended to tackle the city’s “filthy air”, including bringing forward the introduction of zero-emission zones (ZEZ) from 2025 to 2020 in some town centres – a move prompted by businesses and local authorities seeking to accelerate the roll-out of electric vehicles.
As for turning London into a world-first Natural Park City, Mayor Khan has promised to invest further to fund thousands more trees and improvements to community green spaces, as well as funding to help London’s boroughs invest into park spaces.
This further commitment continues the Mayor’s existing work done to promote and invigorate green spaces, which has included helping to fund the planting of over 70,000 trees and another 40,000 funded by City Hall partners in 2016-17 alone.
Mayor Khan has also already committed hundreds-of-thousands towards his £9 million Greener City Fund to improve and create new green spaces.
“Tackling climate change and unleashing the economic, social and health potential of a low carbon future requires radical and urgent action,” said executive director of C40 Cities, Mark Watts. “The London Environment Strategy is setting the standard for just how bold mayors can be in delivering the transformational climate action that humanity needs.”