City Hall responds on Boris’s climate change article

January 2013: Responding to the controversy over the Mayor’s recent musings on climate change, where he wrote about a potential link between extreme weather to the incidence of sun spotsdetails on all of which are set out in an earlier post – the Mayor’s environmental advisor, Matthew Pencharz,  appeared on the BBC’s London Politics show on Sunday (27 Jan) to answer questions on City Hall’s carbon reduction policies. The programme can be seen hereonly for the next 3 days however (fast forward to 51m30secs to the relevant section).

Whilst not directly addressing the Mayor’s comments on climate change and  sun spots (the ideas for which – and substantive arguments against – are set out on the excellent ‘Skeptical Science’ website here) the interview did highlight:

– the Mayor’s climate change target for London as set out in the 2011 Climate Change Mitigation and Enegy Strategy is in fact much tougher than set nationally by Government (London has a 60% reduction target in CO2 emissions by 2025 based on a 1990 deadline: the national target, based on the 2008 Climate Change Act’s carbon budgets, has an 80% reduction by 2050, with an earlier milestone target of 34% by 2020 on the same 1990 baseline).

– there was a difference of views made between Green Party London Assembly member Jenny Jones and the GLA on whether the Mayor’s retrofit insulation programme, RE:NEW,  was delivering or not. The targets on RE:NEW have changed over time (see earlier post for details) and the Sunday Politics show reported that 88,000 homes had now been seen through the scheme as at the end of last month against what was originally a 200,000 home target by the end of 2012. The Mayor’s advisor however stated ‘way over 200,000 homes have been retrofitted by end of last month – 360,000 homes’. The reason for this discrepancy between the Greens and the Mayor’s office  is that it appears that the Mayor is now reporting numbers of  ALL homes treated in the capital through various insulation programmes by energy suppliers – such as CERT and CESP – rather than those treated solely through the RE:NEW scheme itself. This hasn’t been made explicit – and the first reference from the Mayor to these combined elevated numbers was  in a rather opaque answer in July 2012. The latest regional CERT statistics from the Energy Saving Trust (EST) shows that 227,056 homes have been treated under CERT in London by March 2012 since the programme started in April 2008.Under the CESP programme, 4,837 homes had been treated by the end of September 2012 (see latest CESP newsletter here).  Bringing these together suggests a total of (88,000 +4,837 + 227,056)  around 320,000, which roughly tallies with 360,000 quoted (knowing the above CERT stats are 9 months behind and CESP 6 months behind).

Other points made during the interview by Mr Pencharz included:

  • The RE:NEW framework was to pump prime the retrofitting of homes  and insulation programmes clearly make sense
  • The Mayor is doing a lot to reduce CO2 emissions – and that cutting carbon remains a priority
  • No matter of views on the science, climate change needed to be addressed on the precautionary prinicple
  • He disputed Piers Corbyn (see the top link for details of Mr Corbyn and his views) who had said that carbon reduction progammes were a ‘waste of tax payers money’ with Mr Pencharz saying that there were significant economic benefits of such programmes and that Londoners were already saving a great deal of money through the various rertofit programmes
  • Longer term projects decentralised energy programmes being worked on would deliver cheaper and lower carbon energy to Londoners
  • Though CO2 levels are now rising , CO2 levels in London are in fact below 1990 levels despite a significant increase in the capital’s population
  • And finally, that the green sector has grown by 4% over the last two years in London whilst everything had been stagnant.
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