13 July 2016: Great Carbon Brief interview with Mark Watts, CEO of the C40 Cities group. Prior to his role at C40, Mark was the energy and climate change lead in City Hall during Ken Livingstone’s two terms as Mayor, where ground breaking initiatives such as London’s congestion charge and the 2007 Climate Change Action Plan were introduced.
The exchange covers many key areas across the city and climate agenda, and ends with a short discussion on London – with some positive remarks made by Mark on new Mayor, Sadiq Khan, first weeks in office – but pointing out that “We await with interest him appointing a deputy mayor for environment, which is absolutely needed.” Though a number of Deputy Mayors have been appointed by Sadiq over the past few weeks (Transport, Culture, Business, Housing etc) – an environment role remains vacant.
“CB: Okay, and much closer to home — what does a London of the future look like to you?
MW: Well, I think London actually starts from quite a good place, because here we already have a very high degree of green space. We’ve got a good level of density. It could it be a bit denser, a bit more like Paris perhaps, but basically the legacy of the Georgians and the Victorian era has been quite helpful for us. I think the thing that probably where London has the greatest opportunity — it actually links back to your question around the investor community — is that London also has the benefit of not merely of being in some sense a model for how a low carbon city works, with this very great public transport system, having a congestion pricing already in place, and all the green space, but also has a large degree of the investor community here, that if we can unlock that capital that’s sitting there ready to be used to build a green economy of the future, then you really will be able to realise the vision of a future low carbon city. And also one, you know, in a context of Brexit, one of the great things about London is its extraordinary cultural diversity, and I suspect that the cultural diversity is going to be a great benefit to delivering a low carbon world, because the cities where people of all different cultures and religions and geographies, have already learned to work together so well, as they have London, are most likely to be the ones that can also cooperate around this extraordinary challenge of avoiding catastrophic climate change.
CB: And do you have high hopes for Sadiq Khan in taking us towards this?
MW: Well, he’s got off to a great start, hasn’t he? I think this huge focus on settling inequality and some really bold moves within the first few weeks. We await with interest him appointing a deputy mayor for environment, which is absolutely needed. They need that senior level leadership and focus as has happened under the previous mayors. But, yeah, I think we expect great things from Mayor Khan.”