A raft of green regulations, services and incentives are to be developed for businesses in London as part of a major new action plan designed to make the city the greenest in the world.
Unveiled yesterday by Mayor Ken Livingstone, the Climate Change Action Plan aims to slash the capital's carbon emissions by 60 percent on 1990 levels by 2025 through a wide range of measures aimed at homes, private and public sector organisations, the energy network and transport infrastructure.
Livingstone said that the aim of the scheme was to make London a leader in the global fight against climate change whilst also benefiting the city's economy. "The present model of high energy production and high energy waste is utterly inefficient," he argued. "London, together with the rest of the world, must make a decisive shift to an economy in which energy is conserved, not wasted. By making London more carbon efficient we will cut emissions and put money back in Londoners' pocket."
Improvements in energy efficiency are at the centre of the Mayor's strategy for the capitals' offices and the action plan sets out a range of initiatives designed to reduce the electricity bills and carbon footprint of the capital's businesses.
Currently commercial and public sector organisations in London emit 17.9 million tonnes of CO2 per annum, representing 40 per cent of the city's total CO2 emissions. Under business as usual projections this is expected to rise to 19.6 million tonnes of CO2 per annum by 2025, but under the new strategy businesses will be asked to slash emissions to just 5.9 million tonnes.
The action plan accepts that such a drastic reduction is all but impossible without the establishment of wider EU and UK regulation, major changes in energy generation, and the development of a carbon trading scheme. However, it estimates that 7.6 million tonnes of the projected savings are achievable in the current environment through the energy efficiency recommendations made in the Mayor's plan.
The plan highlights the major cost and carbon savings firms can realise through adopting simple strategies such as turning off lights and computers, as well as more onerous changes such as refurbishing offices, signing up to renewable energy providers and changing procurement strategies.
However, it also accepts that take up of such strategies remains low due to the relatively low priority given to reducing electricity bills that account for a small proportion of most businesses' costs and the disconnect in priorities that exists between office tenants and landlords. As the strategy document observes: "the tenant benefits from the upgrade, in the form of lower energy bills, but the landlord would typically bear any building upgrade costs".
To tackle these problems the report admits that "stricter building regulations will… be an important element for catalysing change", but also outlines plans for a Green Organisations Programme designed to support and reward companies that reduce their carbon emissions. The programme will aim to reduce energy use from the commercial sector in London by approximately 20 per cent from 1990 levels by 2025, with a further 20 per cent reduction from more carbon-efficient energy supply and new buildings.
To "kick start" the programme it has also set targets for 2015 aiming to deliver energy efficiency improvements in 40 percent of companies and building improvements in a quarter of offices.
To help meet these targets the Greater London Authority will develop a Better Buildings Partnership aimed at landlords and a Green Organisations Badging Scheme that hopes to provide an incentive for organisations to "green" their operations.
Under the Better Buildings Partnership a "high level forum" will be provided for landlords and environmental building experts to meet and share best practices, while a Mayoral-endorsed charter mark for green buildings and comprehensive best practice support and guidelines for building improvements will also be introduced. Financial subsidies have also not been ruled out with the strategy document claiming "a revolving fund may be set up to catalyse the refurbishment of commercial premises".
Meanwhile, the Green Organisations Badging Scheme aims to provide a mechanism to encourage and reward those firms that reduce their carbon footprint. Details remain sketchy but the main goal seems to be to offer public recognition to those firms that reduce carbon emissions and encourage their partners and staff to do likewise.
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