This is election week in the UK. Across the country, a series of local and mayoral elections are being conducted as well as a potentially explosive by-election in the parliamentary constituency of Hartlepool.
The stakes are high for the parties who will be seeing the election as a chance of taking the temperature of the electorate. For the Tories they will discover if the allegations of sleaze have wiped out some of the gains the party has made from the popularity of Brexit and its vaccine roll out.
For Labour it will highlight if Keir Starmer is starting to claw back voters in the north and the midlands where the party will need to recover to have any chance of winning the next general election.
For Transition Earth though these are arguably short-term issues. We are most concerned about what the candidates – especially those standing for London mayor – have to say about the environment.
When Sadiq Khan was elected London’s mayor in 2016, his manifesto outlined a series of environmental concerns, which were largely overshadowed by economic and structural issues. This time around climate change is even higher up the agenda.
So who is promising what and why
Headline policy – A 10-point Green New Deal, which includes making London a carbon-neutral city by 2030
* Reducing industry emissions, cleaning the TfL transport system and making electric cars more accessible
170,000 new green jobs for Londoners
* Expanding the ULEZ
* Asking Transport for London (TfL) to review its current plans for a zero-emission bus fleet by 2037
* Making the case for Government funding to enable this to be brought forward to 2030
Wackiest idea – He wants to see more green walls and roofs across the city including add flower beds to the roofs of bush shelters
Many environmentalists think that Khan has done an impressive job as mayor of London. The clean air in London group gave him ‘A-minus’ for delivery on clean air policies between 2016 and 2021. He has also pushed the shift to active transport via the creation of many new bicycle routes, and has worked with the boroughs to create low traffic zones.
Headline policy – He wants to turn London buses green by creating a zero-emission bus fleet by 2025
* Opposing the expansion of Heathrow Airport in all forms.
* No expansion of ULEZ and exempt motorcycles from the zone
* Offering greater access to car clubs to reduce car ownership
* Expanding urban woodline (in line with beautification drive)
Wackiest idea – An interest-free loan to every black cab driver so they can switch to electric cabs. He says that it is equivalent to taking one million diesel cars off London’s roads.
Bailey is from the environmentally concerned wing of the Conservative party and his policies generally reflect an attempt to reduce carbon emissions and stem climate change. The big but though is that he is soft on car ownership and usage. Although this is tempered slightly by the drive to create car clubs. Green campaigners may also be distrustful of the fact that the Conservatives are the political party not calling for a new Clean Air Act to decarbonise buildings.
Headline policy – Ambition to create the greenest city on the planet by setting carbon reduction targets for 2030 and working with everyone in the city to attain them
* Creating a green energy company to ensure all Londoners have access to clean energy
* Having all GLA operations work at 100 per cent renewable energy by 2026
* Phasing meat and fish out of the menu in as many places as possible
* Opposing all airport expansions in London and South East
* Increasing food production close to London to improve food security
* Introducing traffic reduction targets
* Extending ULEZ to the whole city
* Pushing to end a sale of fur in London
Wackiest idea – Ensuring the rights of renters to own pets
In the most wide-ranging green manifesto of all the candidates Sian Berry pairs an aggressive approach to reducing carbon emissions with a humane and arguably progressive attitude towards animals and the environment. How the innovations will be funded though remains the key issue
Headline policy – Massive focus on clean, green public transport projects.
* Replacing London’s arbitrary system of multiple road use charges with a single smart and fair pay as you go road pricing system. Drivers would be charged based on much they drive, how much pollution they create
* Extending the cycle hire scheme
* Doubling expenditure on bicycle infrastructure
* Making all busses electric or hydrogen by 2028
* Rewilding thousands of spaces across London from green roofs to more public parks
* Scraping Silvertown tunnel project
Wackiest policy – Make Santander bikes free to hire on Sundays
Assessment – This is another bold green vision for London with an emphasis on reducing emissions by greening public transport and encouraging active transport. Of all the parties the Lib Dems have most to say about bike usage and ownership – a key issue for many young Londoners.
Other candidates who major on green issues
Vanessa Hudson – Animal Welfare Party The leader of the Animal Welfare Party since 2010, Vanessa Hudson has been a vegan for 26 years, so not surprisingly she believes passionately in promoting plant-based diets.
Valerie Brown – Burning Pink An activist with close links to Extinction Rebellion Valerie Brown is running to be the last mayor of London as she is pledging to abolish the post in favour of legally binding citizens assemblies if she is elected.
Farah London – Independent Farah’s core pledges include championing London as a tech hub, cutting the Congestion Charge, and prioritising animal welfare.
Also for the assembly
Although they don’t have a candidate for the mayoral elections, Londependence, an independent movement calling for increased autonomy from central government, is running several candidates for the London assembly. They promise to create an autonomous, diverse and livable city by pushing progressive social policies allied to promoting London’s businesses by attempting to soften the impact of Brexit and in particular seeking a better deal for the financial services industry
Their green plans are based around a wide-ranging series of measure for attacking climate change, but also include;
* The creation of greentech hubs – developing startups who are focusing on tackling climate change-related issues
* Championing active transport, and creating more bike storage for Londoners
* Developing a city-wide approach to recycling. They argue that the borough by borough approach leaves a lot to be desired
* Creating more outdoors sporting space for Londoners including working with boroughs and private enterprises to create a series of new lidos and leisure facilities
Photo by Pierre Blaché from Pexels