On Tuesday the Mayor did his environment thing, see Standard again here. The Mayor likes to make out that he is Mr Green and is highlighting his alliance with the Green Party.
Boris’s document lays out what a London Mayor can achieve in practice whilst the Mayor is trying to save the world. The Mayor’s approach also betrays his Zone 1 focus.
As I have said before the Mayor has not been shy about using public funds for green electioneering, for instance Â£3.3 million for LEZ and emissions related congestion charging ads. The later “gas guzzler” charge and Boris Johnson’s antipathy to it figure prominently in the Mayor’s pitch even though his own documents make it clear that it will have no effect on CO2 or general pollution. The LEZ is another environmental scam, see here, but in Johnson’s document he promises to leave it alone.
We are passionately committed to improving Londonâ€™s air quality. We must act to deal with the estimated 1000 deaths per year caused by air pollution. The â€˜polluter paysâ€™ principle that lies behind the Low Emission Zone is fair. We believe the LEZ is a step in the right direction.
On one level I am disappointed by that but it is probably sensible politics as it would cause a lot of uncertainty and confusion to withdraw the scheme now. It is though an object lesson in how not to do environmental projects. As is another the Mayor’s schemes to subsidise loft insulation. Boris’ document says:
The Mayor’s principal policy for improving the energy efficiency of domestic properties has been a heavily-publicised money back scheme, funded in conjunction with British Gas. With this scheme, the household receives a postal order after they have ordered insulation. The money offered depends on whether the insulation is self-installed (Â£50) or professionally fitted (Â£100).
But the most recent figures show that just 3,098 Londoners have signed up to the Mayorâ€™s scheme to insulate their homes (the target was 30,000 homes by 1 June 2007). This is despite more than Â£2.2 million spent on marketing and publicity â€“ with just Â£300,000 spent on actually insulating properties. We are certain that this performance can be bettered and we will promote an alternative scheme that uses Council Tax rebates to persuade owner occupiers to install insulation.
Rather like the Mayor’s Oyster card give away which cost Â£800K in advertising, the purpose of insulation scheme is to promote the Mayor rather than to change the world, or even a few London attics.