While the mayor is spending more on the environment, it’s not clear how those expenses are benefitting the environment or climate change, a new report from the London Assembly reveals.
The Assembly Budget and Performance Committee report found that less than one-third of the total Greater London Authority (GLA) group environment spend will be on combatting climate change, and less than 4 per cent will be spent on reducing waste.
The vast majority of funds will be spent on other initiatives designed to “make London a greener and more pleasant city,” for which the environmental benefits are not very clear or are still being worked out, according to the report.
For example, Transport for London’s cycling programme has a budget of £111 million and makes up over half of the total GLA group environment spend. However, the scheme is likely to have only a minimal effect on car usage, and therefore, on CO2 emissions and air pollution levels, figures obtained by the London Assembly show.
Committee members say the GLA group is not taking a consistent approach on the investment criteria used for choosing environment programmes and warn there may not be enough capacity to make full use of the group environment budget — especially with the LDA’s track record of underspending.
In addition, staff cuts within the GLA environment team could affect its ability to provide central leadership to the functional bodies and ensure the group;s programmes are integrated, well managed and running at full capacity, the report finds.
“Although the mayor has increased overall environment spend by £65 million, his focus is not on programmes that actually combat climate change – for this, the increase in budget is less than £1 million,” said John Biggs AM, chair of the Budget and Performance Committee. “Given the fast approaching and challenging 2025 target for CO2 reduction, the mayor needs to demonstrate that he is concentrating on initiatives that will really make a difference, rather than pie-in-the-sky programmes.”