12 April 2011

Double hit to London’s green credentials

While the 2012 Olympics looks on course to hit unprecedented levels of sustainability, a new report says the Games will not hit targets for 20 per cent energy production from renewables. Meanwhile Boris Johnson’s green policy also looks set to fall short of energy-saving retrofit targets for 2012, with only 74 homes completed in the last year.

While emissions targets look set to be met for the games, this will not be through renewable energy, says the Commission for a Sustainable London 2010, the independent body assuring the sustainability of the Games, in their latest annual report, ‘Game Changing.’

Out of the 20 per cent target, a nine per cent generation looks possible. Despite this however, the commission is positive about the sustainability plans for 2012 and urges for momentum to be kept up.

Shaun McCarthy, Chair of the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012, said: “We are incredibly close to our ultimate goal of a sustainable Games, which would make London 2012 a unique entry in the annals of Olympic and Paralympic history.”

The commission believes the ambitious targets set by the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) and the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) will take the London Games a step closer to being the first truly sustainable Games.

With 500 days to do, the Commission urges all parties involved to remain committed and continue to drive sustainability.

However, major concerns have been raised regarding the transport plans for the Games. Green groups have urged the latest Olympic Transport Plan (OTP) to be thrown out, and a ‘very low-emissions zone’ to be installed.

The Strategic Environmental Assessment of transport’s impact upon the games has shown that European legal air pollution limits are likely to be breached because of traffic increases in the area.

If the ODA and Mayor do not achieve a 30% reduction in normal traffic during the period of the games, then the level of pollution will be even greater than predicted. The traffic reduction plan relies upon persuading Londoners not to travel.

The Green Party’s London Assembly spokesperson, Darren Johnson said: “Going over the European legal limit for particulate pollution in 2012 would also land us immediately in court, with the possibility of a £300m fine. The Mayor needs to heed this warning by immediately introducing a Very Low- Emission Zone which only allows the cleanest vehicles to enter central London.

“The Mayor’s solution to Olympic congestion is to tell Londoners to either escape the capital or not to travel if they do stay in London. That is really not much of a traffic reduction plan.”  

Simon Birkett, Director of Clean Air London responded to the OTP saying rather than “playing mind-games with Londoners” with last minute number plate ban, as was seen in Beijing, a ban on older diesel vehicles should be set in advance.

Targets for London homes are also in danger as Boris Johnson aims to retrofit 200,000 homes in London with energy saving measures before the 2012 election look unattainable. Figures show just 74 homes have been retrofitted since last year.

Since the scheme started in 2009, 8,936 homes have been treated under the RE: NEW scheme, which aims to make homes more energy and water efficient through measures such as loft and cavity wall insulation.

Labour’s London Assembly environment spokesperson, Murad Qureshi said: "With rising fuel bills and the widening energy gap, this scheme is a vital lifeline in helping householders reduce their fuel consumption particularly for those on low incomes. The Mayor has to start being more honest with Londoners about what he will actually achieve. If it has taken him two years to achieve just 4 per cent of his target, it’s going to be a big ask to get to 200,000."

In response, Boris Johnson said that with the funding from the LDA settlement from government confirmed, the programme will proceed as anticipated.


Image 1: Amanda Slater | flickr

Image 2: euthrophication & hypoxia | flickr

Image 3: BBM explorer | flickr

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