The hugely polluting Silvertown Tunnel scheme, backed by both Labour’s Sadiq Khan and the Tories’ Shaun Bailey, could see both candidates in Thursday’s Mayor election lose the support of Londoners who are rightly concerned about the climate crisis and the capital’s toxic air.
Today, influential environmental group Friends of the Earth issued an assessment of the Labour and Conservative candidates’ policies and statements and found them both to be lacking.
Friends of the Earth has 2million members around the world. In a statement issued this morning, FoE said, “As a politically impartial group, our aim is to ensure all parties have the strongest possible policies on the environment. We will hold the next London Mayor and London Assembly – whoever that may be – to the promises they have made to us and the public through their manifestos and pledges.”
With just days until the election, neither Mayor Khan nor Bailey have signed up to the Friends of the Earth climate pledge.
Despite strong opposition from locals and environmental groups, who fear that the road tunnel will encourage much more motor traffic use and a resulting increased in air pollution across south-east London, construction work on the project has already begun on the Greenwich Peninsular site.
“Concerned about London’s illegally toxic air, and the need to prioritise the climate emergency that the Mayor declared 28 months ago, Friends of the Earth local volunteer groups across London have rated the four main mayoral manifestos against Friends of the Earth’s 10-point Climate Action Plan for London,” they said.
The Green Party manifesto scored highest, at 31 out of a possible 36.
This was followed by Labour’s manifesto at 27.5, the Liberal Democrats on 18.5, and the Conservatives on a paltry 17.
“Whoever wins the election will need to push ahead to secure rapid cuts in carbon emissions from London,” Friends of the Earth member Tim Root said.
“This means getting stronger national policies, and much more funding for energy efficiency retrofits of existing homes in our city.
“We will continue to lobby the Mayor, whoever it is, to be as bold as possible, for example by scrapping Silvertown and introducing Smart Road Charging, and we will support them by lobbying central government for support.
“There were good points in all of the manifestos but we’d like to see a greater focus on ensuring those who are most at risk to the effects of climate change are put at the centre of decision making and aren’t pushed further into inequality, for example low-income and people from ethnic minority communities are already frequently in areas with the highest levels of pollution and most lacking in accessible green space.”
Key points from the manifesto audits include:
- All the manifestos and candidates expressed support for climate action. But they differ widely in detail and commitment. For example, the Liberal Democrat manifesto had some good policies, including calling for scrapping of the proposed Silvertown Road Tunnel project, but was too short to address all the necessary policy areas. It is a LibDem council, in Sutton, that gave planning approval to the polluting Viridor incinerator.
- The Green Party is clearly committed to radical action across the board on climate, and to involving people in that process. Friends of the Earth welcomes the proposals for helping workers in carbon-intense industries like aviation to transition into greener jobs.
- Labour’s manifesto is based on years of developing and implementing policies for London. The commitment to protect the climate is strong but appears set to make a big error by going ahead with the Silvertown Tunnel that would increase emissions and waste £2billion that could go on green transport.
- The Conservative manifesto also makes commitments on climate change, but neglects some policy areas, and would weaken some environmental protection like the extended Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) and Congestion Charge zone.
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