A French company today announced plans to put 3,000 electric rental cars onto London’s streets.
Londoners will be able to hire the cars and drop them off at any one of thousands of charging points in a system billed as the automotive equivalent of the “Boris bike” scheme. » Read the rest of this entry «
I have often argued that government regulations will eventually force electric cars upon us whether we want them or not. It is happening now in Europe where politicians see advantage in endorsing electric cars to establish their credentials in the climate change debate.
London’s colourful mayor, Boris Johnson, recently announced plans to ban motorists who don’t have a green or hybrid car from driving in central London in the daytime by 2020.
Electric cars are now political instruments. I’m sure Renault/Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn was expecting this when he invested billions to become the world leader in electric vehicle production. There are only a handful in Canada, but around the world, there are roughly 50,000 all-electric Nissan Leafs on the road. I’m sure Boris Johnson sold a few more of them in London with his announcement.
The political usefulness of electric cars has been further elevated in the Scottish independence campaign, of all things. The Yes side believes electric cars might be the issue that helps Scotland achieve independence.
Next year, there will be a referendum that asks Scottish voters, “Should Scotland be an Independent Country?” The pro-independence SNP (Scottish National Party), which holds the majority in the Scottish Assembly, last week chose the electric car as a means to woo voters.
Going green is more popular than going independent for Scots. Polls conducted last year by Friends of the Earth Scotland found that 88 per cent of Scots support plans to reduce fossil fuel use and to increase alternate electricity production. The latest newspaper polls, on the other hand, show that less than a third of Scots support independence.
So SNP politicians have promised to install an electric car charging point at least every 50 miles on major roads. They’re promising free charging points for homeowners and charging points at shopping centres, places of work, car parks and ferry terminals.
The reasoning is that boosting the adoption of electric cars gets Scotland closer to energy independence. Scotland has a smaller population (5.2 million people) than England (53 million) and more wide open space. Wind power, tidal power and biomass is hoped to keep the lights on and the cars running. And if you expect to become energy independent, then why not go all the way?
Over the past two years, the SNP-led Scottish government has bought a small fleet of electric vehicles, built charging stations and bought a number of hydrogen fuel-cell buses for Aberdeen. Scotland has ambitious targets for reducing CO2 emissions and for increasing the use of renewable energy sources. Focusing on energy independence and going green is clearly part of the referendum strategy.
Electric cars as political footballs – it’s happening now. Election results will matter more than showroom displays in determining how quickly electric cars are upon us.
As London prepares to go to the polls to elect its next mayor on Thursday,BusinessGreen caught up with incumbent mayor Boris Johnson via email, who is determined to hold the mayoralty for another four years.
Johnson has faced constant criticism from green businesses and campaigners over his environmental record in recent years, with attacks focusing on the continued failure to bring the capital into line with EU air quality standards, cuts to a number of environmental programmes, and the decision not to extend the city##Q##s congestion charging scheme.
But the mayor insists he has delivered on every one of theenvironmental pledges he set when he entered office in 2008, including boosting the number of hybrid buses in Transport for London##Q##s fleet and initiating work to cut carbon emissions by 60 per cent by 2020.
BusinessGreen: If you are re-elected on 3 May, what will you do to support green businesses?
Boris Johnson: Our programmes tackling climate change will not only make London a better place for our children, they are creating jobs for Londoners now. Up to 14,000 jobs could be created every year as part of £721m of low-carbon activity, promoting retrofitting and cleaner transport.
Under my leadership, City Hall has taken the lead in driving the green economy. Our RE:NEW programme has helped 55,000 London households reduce their carbon footprint, as well as their energy bills. Our RE:FIT programme has retro-fitted 42 public buildings with carbon-reducing technology, delivering 5,000 tonnes of carbon emissions reductions and an average 28 per cent energy saving per building. Under our RE:CONNECT programme, 10 Low Carbon Zones have been created across London to pioneer carbon reduction in our city.
In my next term of office, I will continue our investment in these schemes and extend RE:NEW to a further 20,000 houses. I will also expand electric car charging points to 1,300, giving Londoners more charge points than petrol stations, and expanding the GLA##Q##s electric fleet to 1,000.
What would you highlight as your top three green achievements from your time in office?
Since I was elected in 2008, I have delivered on all the green election pledges I set out that are so vital in helping to make London a better place. One of my top green achievements is the successful work that has been done to protect London##Q##s green spaces and plant 10,000 street trees.
In 2009, I launched the £4m Help a London Park scheme as part of mycommitment to clean up and improve the capital##Q##s rundown green spaces. Improvements have included new play equipment for children, improved access and security, extensive new landscaping and the creation of a wildlife habitat. In total, I am delivering improvements to 300 acres of green space across our city.
We need to focus on enabling more successful schemes such as this. By the start of the Olympics, I will have invested over £335m in 80 public space projects that people living, working, and visiting the city will be able to enjoy.
Street trees improve air quality as well as quality of life for Londoners. Earlier this year I planted our 10,000th street tree since 2008, fulfilling one of my key election promises. If I am re-elected I will deliver 20,000 street trees by 2016.
In addition to trees planted by the GLA I am working with the Forestry Commission, and through my RE:LEAF programme we have planted 100,000 trees since 2008.
Another ##Q##green achievement##Q## I##Q##m particularly proud of is the introduction of the £5m to create a Clean Air Fund for London to improve air quality in hotspots. This fund will:
• Help reduce pollution at the worst hotspots for particulate matter (PM10).
• Reduce idling through improved signage and infrastructure, contain targeted interventions with specific vehicles such as taxis and coaches, and awareness raising activities and enforcement.
• Installing diesel particulate filters on buses travelling along hotspot locations, such as Upper Thames Street, Marylebone Road and Park Lane.
I will continue to champion improvements to London##Q##s air quality and work constructively with the government on the issue. I will keep the 100 per cent congestion charge discount for low-emission vehicles so there is a real financial incentive for Londoners to drive the cleanest vehicles available and work with the new London Health Improvement Board to engage the health service in addressing poor air quality.
Your opponents have highlighted figures showing you spent just £40m of an £84m climate change budget over the past four years. How can you explain the underspend and what reassurances can you offer green businesses that support for the capital##Q##s green economy will increase in the future?
I have delivered on every single one of the pledges contained in my 2008 environment manifesto. In fact, I have delivered on more than 90 per cent of my election promises from 2008. In contrast, in Ken Livingstone##Q##s time in office he broke more than half the promises he made.
This election is about trust, and right from the start I have been upfront about my plans, my record of delivery and even my taxes. I stand on my record, and green businesses can be assured I will deliver on my manifesto at this election.
WELL DONE BORIS!