A coalition of environmental groups has called on the next London mayor to launch a loan scheme for small businesses to spur the uptake of energy efficiency measures alongside a range of other green initiatives.
The group – which includes Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Green Alliance and the National Trust – has kicked off the start of Green London week with a report outlining specific measures the winner of the upcoming election should adopt to make boost the city’s green credentials.
It recommends a new SME loan scheme for energy efficiency offering businesses unsecured, interest free loans of £1,000 to £100,000 with a payback time of four years to help them reduce their carbon emissions through energy efficiency.
The report claims over 40% of London’s carbon emissions come from its workplaces, with SMEs in particular finding it hard to make energy savings. The scheme could take the form of a ten year programme backed by energy companies or the mayor.
The suggestion follows the closure of the London Energy Efficiency Fund (LEEF) last week, which invested £65 million in energy efficiency measures during its initial funding cycle, with some provided by the current mayor’s London Green Fund. However, this only offered loans starting at £1 million, with smaller funds more difficult to secure for small firms.
The Greener London report also calls for a renewed focus on district heat initatives, suggesting the next mayor should encourage London boroughs and Transport for London to assess the potential for new schemes across their estates.
The report claims the heat currently wasted in London could meet 70% of the city’s heating needs, with district heat initiatives needed to meet the target of delivering 25% of London’s energy supply from decentralised energy in 2025.
The Bunhill Heat and Power network in Islington, which connects to waste heat from the Underground, has been held up as an example of a successful district heating scheme. This report claims the project supplies cheaper, greener heat to over 700 existing homes and two leisure centres.
It adds that new projects like it should be adopted and form part of an overarching heat action plan, through which the next mayor should set out to decarbonise and use much more of London’s waste heat.
As well as restating Greenpeace’s earlier calls for the next London mayor to increase solar deployment by tenfold, the document also recommends that the election winner put pressure on government to allow increased energy efficiency standards for the private rented sector.
As of April 2018, national policy will mean new tenancies cannot be agreed unless a property meets the new minimum standard of EPC band E for domestic properties. The Greener London report suggests the next mayor adopt a policy requiring a minimum EPC C level by 2025 for all suitable homes, although it is unclear how improvements would be funded.
It is also suggested that the city’s transport system be ‘cleaned up’ by making all of London’s bus fleet zero emission capable in 2018, spreading to all London buses by 2025. Currently, there are 1,500 hybrid buses, 22 electric and 8 hydrogen vehicles out of a fleet of 8,600. There are plans to have all single decker buses electric by 2020, which the report says should be accomplished by 2018.
It is also suggested that all diesel taxis and private hire vehicles be phased out by 2017, with licensing for these vehicles to cease in 2020.
Matthew Spencer, director at Green Alliance, said: “London is a dynamic city, but if it’s to remain a healthy place to live and work it also has to become a greener city. London is unusual in the
UK in having most of the powers it needs to make itself greener without waiting for central government. We’ve suggested practical ways the next mayor can use their power on behalf of London citizens seeking a more liveable city.”
Several candidates in this year’s election have already made a series a green pledges as part of their campaigns. Labour’s Sadiq Khan plans to instigate a “clean energy revolution” with an ‘Energy for Londoners’ organisation; Conservative Zac Goldsmith has said he wants London to be the “greenest city on Earth”; and Green Party candidate Sian Berry has suggested setting up a new subsidiary of TfL to promote the use of renewable energy.