Independent analysis by Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace has concluded that Labour’s Ken Livingstone is the greenest of the two front-running candidates in May’s London mayoral elections.
Having assessed the manifestos, pledges and track records of all four main candidates, Jenny Jones of the Green Party emerged as the greenest, followed by Ken Livingstone (Labour), Brian Paddick (Liberal Democrat) and incumbent Mayor Boris Johnson (Conservative) in last place.
The individuals were rated on six key environmental criteria: air pollution, transport, aviation, climate change, energy and energy generation.
Friends of the Earth’s policy and campaigns director, Craig Bennett, said: “If you live in the capital and care about your health and green spaces, and the city’s economy, you should care who runs London.
“From fresher air and cheaper public transport to open spaces for our children to play in, the Mayor’s environmental decisions can be make or break for Londoners’ quality of life.
“The next Mayor must put the environment at the heart of policy-making – and give us all a prosperous, clean and safe capital to be proud of.”
Greenpeace chief scientist, Dr Doug Parr, said: “People look to world cities like London to provide political leadership on national and international problems like ending our oil and gas addiction, so temporarily sticking air pollution to roads and championing airport growth and cars won’t cut it.
“But policies to insulate the city’s draughty homes, make public transport more appealing and cycling safer can have a serious impact on carbon emissions and Londoners’ wallets and wellbeing.”
The study’s findings included:
1) Jenny Jones’ proposals, such as London-wide road user charging, address the scale of action needed to make London’s air safe to breathe and to meet climate targets. This would cut fares and traffic levels, helping create the shift to walking, cycling and public transport needed to keep the capital moving. She understands the need to support policies that are win, win, win – environmentally, socially and economically.
2) Ken Livingstone delivered difficult and ambitious green politics in office – his Congestion Charge, Low Emission Zone and climate change targets and strategies were groundbreaking. Environmental issues again run centrally throughout Livingstone’s manifesto in 2012, with strong commitments on most of the key areas. However, he failed to meet EU air pollution targets as Mayor, and proposed some measures which would have worsened pollution such as the Thames Gateway road bridge. This time round he has less bold commitments than in previous elections, especially on road pricing.
3) Brian Paddick’s central London Low Emission Zone is a strong air pollution policy – helping to push his ranking to second in that category. However, he supports new river crossings for vehicles in East London which would increase traffic, and greater clarity is needed about whether his support for larger aeroplanes will result in increased climate emissions and noise pollution.
4) Boris Johnson’s strongest environmental record is on green spaces – he recognises their intrinsic value and importance for Londoners’ wellbeing. His Capital Growth scheme and protection for back gardens have been strong points in office. However, his transport policies to increase road space for motor vehicles would increase traffic and pollution. His support for a 50 per cent increase in flights from City Airport and a new multi-runway airport in the Thames Estuary sets him apart as a candidate who does not respect the urgent need to tackle air pollution and climate change. Boris tops the ranking on green spaces, but comes last in all other categories.