The Mayor published his London Climate Change Action Plan yesterday. It is all cheerily endorsed by Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and the Green Party. It is mostly outside the Mayor’s competence too if he was honest.
There are some things the Mayor can control and he really should focus on these. The funniest graph in his document was this one:
It seems if you jump in your car you often do so with other people, so average car occupancy in London is 1.6. This results in cars only pushing out 110 g/passenger kilometre compared to buses which push out only slightly less, 80 g/passenger kilometre. The figures show that cars are 37.5% worse than buses. The document points out that if there weren’t 1.6 people in each car then car emissions would be 60% higher. Yes, but they aren’t. The report does not point out in the same way that bus occupancy is 15 so if there was only one person in each bus then bus emissions would be 1400% higher.
Of course the Mayor is relying on journalists to only read the management summary of his document so the Evening Standard yesterday repeated this factoid from the management summary:
For the average Londoner, switching from driving to work to taking the bus will save 0.6 tonnes of carbon per year; taking up cycling instead would increase these savings to 1.1 tonnes.
This carefully phrased sentence inflates the carbon impact of cars by 60% above actual, delivered performance today by ignoring the extra 0.6 person in each car. When I saw the figure in the Evening Standard my first thought was that London’s buses are so empty that they are only 0.6 tonnes better than a car. The reality is that they are only 0.3 tonnes better. The Mayor is saying travel on my dirty, vandalised, wildly driven, inconvenient, stand-out-in-the-rain-waiting-at-a-bus-stop buses and save the planet.
One thing the Mayor can actually really do is to look at bus engine efficiency and occupancy. His action plan does not spell out what he will do to improve bus engines. His action plan does not spell out what he will do to improve London Buses’ low bus occupancy of 15, ie the average bus only has 15 people on it. Although the Mayor has no powers in this area the action plan does call for “support of car sharing to increase passenger occupancy”. The Mayor just wants to push out hot air rather than stick to what he can actually do.