Ken Livingstone's radical plans to combat climate change in London the most ambitious of any politician
Red Ken has once again grabbed the green spotlight and is running away with the eco-agenda like he was chasing after a 4x4 that dared drive too close to City Hall.
Last Tuesday he unveiled a 232-page plan to place his city – yes, his city – at the forefront of the battle against climate change and turn us into the greenest metropolis in the world.
There’s the green “concierge service” that will provide bespoke makeovers of London homes to increase energy efficiency, cut-price cavity wall insulation (free for those on housing benefit) and even incentives for commercial landlords to eco-upgrade their buildings. Ken wants London to cut carbon emissions by 60% by 2025, twice as fast as Government plans to.
And there’s the rub. The climate change agenda suits Livingstone and his ambitions down to the soon-to-be-flooded ground. He gets to save the planet and have a pop at those he doesn’t much like at the same time.
Twice as fast as the government! Doubly better than Tony and his cronies! Who could resist making a hubabaloo about such an achievement?
But there’s a problem. The mayor alone lacks the powers to achieve this ambitious target. The only way it’s possible is with the backing of central government legislation.
“The difficult truth is,” the plan points out, “is that in preparing this action plan we have been unable to present any realistic scenario in which we can achieve the 2025 target without a small number of key national regulatory and policy changes.”
In other words: guys, pull your fingers out and let me show you how to save the planet.
And then there’s rich people. Livingstone loves bashing them for their excessively luxurious lifestyles.
In the foreword to the action plan, he writes: “Buying a gas-guzzling 4x4 vehicle is an ‘individual choice’ but it creates carbon emissions that contribute to global warming and harm everyone.”
He goes on: “I hope for the sake of our children and grandchildren that we can still prevent catastrophic climate change…”
Hope you’re not feeling too guilty yet.
But most have welcomed the plans as long overdue and the green lobby, which Livingstone has already won over, is now ready to anoint him Ken, King of Climate Change.
“Hats off to Ken Livingstone,” says Friends of the Earth director Tony Juniper.
“Ken Livingstone is showing how the largest city in Europe can combat climate change. No other leader is on the same page,” gushes John Sauven, director of Greenpeace.
And what’s more, looking around at what other UK politicians are doing, they’re probably right.