The Mayor of London Boris Johnson plans to build waste and recycling plants which could bring more than 1,000 jobs and contribute £78 million a year to the capital’s economy, according to a new report.
The Low Carbon Capital report, researched by services firm Ernst and Young, outlines for the first time the economic boost and job opportunities for London and the UK if it positions itself at the forefront of the low carbon economy.
Unfortunately, its release coincided with leaked papers that showed Johnson is planning to slash the manpower of his environment team by 50 percent.
Johnson, whose brother Leo Johnson is co-founder of advisory firm Sustainable Finance Ltd, plans to roll-out “significant waste plants across London using proven waste technology to facilitate the conversion of organic waste to input renewable power to the London grid (gasification and anaerobic digestion)”.
The report says that additional sustainable revenue streams could be created through sale of recyclate and fertiliser to industry and agriculture.
The report highlights that 14,000 jobs could be created per annum and bring £600m a year to the capital’s economy if London implements its low carbon programmes.
By building 98 waste and recycling plants by 2025 the report suggests that 1,260 jobs will be created a year. Jobs in the waste industry will include: research and development, finance, project management, manufacturing, installation and operations.
However, according to The Guardian newspaper the team tasked to reduce London’s greenhouse gas emissions and increase recycling and biodiversity is to be cut in half in a major overhaul.
Leaked documents seen by the Guardian show that the Greater London authority plans to reduce the total number of 40 staff working on environmental issues in the capital to 20.
The cuts will reduce the climate change and energy team from 10 to three, and see the loss of the head of environment and the air quality specialist posts among others.
The shake-up in city hall follows Johnson's pledge to reduce costs and streamline bureacracy but has been met with scepticism. "This is not so much a shakeup as a massacre. It goes way beyond what would be considered efficiency savings", said Darren Johnson, Green party assembly member.
"London has been considered a world leader on environment and it should not pretend it can continue [to lead] with half the number of people."
The internal paper proposing the cuts said: "The proposed changes would bring together two units which have significant overlaps in policy terms — examples include the roll-out of electric vehicles, improvements to London's air quality and noise reduction initiatives."
Before winning the mayoral election, Johnson said that the environment was at or near the top of London's agenda. He pledged "to take action to make London the greenest city in the world". The capital is regarded by the government as key to whether Britain meets its international climate change and air quality targets.
A Johnson spokesperson defended the proposed cuts telling The Guardian: "Success at tackling environmental issues is not measured by the size of the team at city hall but by the progress of work on the ground. The mayor has an ambitious target to cut London's carbon emissions by 60% by 2025 and a raft of initiatives are being developed. The proposed combination of the environment and transport team is a commonsense approach."
The London Development Agency commissioned the Low Carbon Capital report and bases its figures on the Mayor’s existing plans such as making buildings more energy efficient, building energy-from-waste plants, and introducing low carbon vehicles.
Johnson said: “I see the green economy as an unprecedented opportunity not only to improve our planet and our quality of life, but to develop new industries and create new jobs in an economic climate that is otherwise extremely difficult.
“There are clear opportunities for London to create jobs and wealth by pursuing programmes to save energy and cut carbon. This report shows the capital is uniquely placed to become a leading low carbon city with all the economic benefits that would bring.
"I am determined that London emerges in the best possible position from the downturn and I'm taking every step required to do so. We are already making our own buildings more energy efficient saving £1 million per year.
"These kinds of things will not only stimulate our economy, but also help to contribute to global efforts to make the changes needed to become a less carbon belching society.”