Sadiq Khan will be sticking to his target of achieving net zero carbdon emissions in London by 2030, despite the Prime Minister’s policy shifts on the issue, London Assembly members (AMs) have been told.
“The Mayor has been quite forthright in his views on the Prime Minister’s announcement,” said City Hall assistant director for environment and energy Catherine Barber (pictured), appearing before the Assembly’s budget and performance committee on Wednesday. “He’s said he thinks it will be bad for investment in the UK generally.” She added: “What businesses are looking for is policy certainty. The Mayor is offering that. London’s net zero by 2030 target is unchanged.”
Speaking in New York at the United Nations climate ambition summit shortly after the Sunak announcement, Khan had said that businesses and “millions of people” would “feel let down by news from my own country that our Prime Minister is now backtracking on the UK’s climate commitments.” London and other major cities would, he promised, “continue to be the climate doers, not the delayers of our time”.
The pledge was reiterated by City Hall officials as the budget committee probed Khan’s “climate budget” approach, incorporating targets, action plans and costings for climate action into annual financial planning alongside spending targets. The Greater London Authority (GLA) has adopted climate budgeting for 2023/24, setting out how annual spending of some £16 billion would contribute to making GLA operations net zero by the target date.
Since adopting the new approach, carbon emissions across the GLA group, including Transport for London, Metropolitan Police and fire services, as well as central City Hall functions, were down by 53 per cent on the 2015/16 baseline adopted, the meeting heard. Government funding to decarbonise the whole of the capital’s 8,600-strong bus fleet would boost performance significantly, making the fleet fully zero-emission by 2030 rather than by Khan’s 2034 target date, officials said.
Bids for a share of the Mayor’s new £500 million green finance fund supporting borrowing costs for projects addressing energy efficiency, clean transportation or renewable energy were also now being assessed, AMs were told. The new fund, launched at London Climate Action Week this summer, follows on from Khan’s energy efficiency fund, which backed schemes including bus depot electric charging, and green heating systems serving more than 12,000 homes in Southwark and Enfield.
The fund would not be open to individual applications, although councils and other housing providers could apply for support for wider housing improvements, said Barber, agreeing with AM Caroline Pidgeon that domestic energy use is now the single largest source of carbon emissions in the city.
She stressed the need for urgent action: “Strengthening the national grid so that electric vehicle infrastructure can go on, introducing district heating systems – these will need to be done right now. You can’t just do a big push in 2029.”
The meeting took place as London Councils, the umbrella organisation of the capital’s local authorities, announced its own new £2 million two-year plans to address climate change challenges. The investment builds on existing work installing EV charging points across the capital, upgrading home insulation and boosting green job creation, the grouping said.
“There are great opportunities for private investment in net zero and green jobs and growth to be had, but commitment over the next two years is critical,” said Ealing councillor and London Councils’ environment committee chair Deirdre Costigan. “Choices made in London today about urban infrastructure, upskilling workers and supporting communities to live more sustainably will determine the extent and impact of the climate emergency across our capital.”
Watch the Assembly budget committee meeting in full here. X/Twitter: Charles Wright and On London. If you value On London and its writers, become a supporter or a paid subscriber to publisher and editor Dave Hill’s Substack. Thanks.