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Time to switch on the Green Deal in London

Richard McCarthy, Executive Director for central government at Capita Symonds and previously Director General for neighbourhoods at the Department for Communities and Local Government, argues that it’s time to think, plan and act big by implementing the Green Deal across London.

Richard McCarthy will be speaking about the opportunities for action to reduce carbon emissions and boost the green economy at the forthcoming BASE London conference on 21 June.

The profile of the low carbon economy and the need to reduce carbon emissions has dipped recently, along with the stock market. The domestic political agenda is currently dominated by the economy, the Leveson Inquiry, the state of the euro and, of course, the Euro 2012 football championship (although I suspect our interest here won’t last too long). Yet now is exactly the right time to take action in London.

Policy makers and influencers understand the need for action but must also recognise the very real economic pressures on individual households, be they families or single people, old or young. Early, focused and effective action is imperative if we are to save the planet from the effects of rising temperatures, sea levels and volatility. We can do this by demonstrating the desire and commitment to help low income households by reducing their utility bills and leaving them with the benefit of at least a little extra cash in their pockets.

Going green must not mean a lower quality of life or greater costs. But this requires collective action and a sustained effort.

So, what needs to happen?

  1. The Government is to complete the design of and delivery mechanisms for the Green Deal.
  2. The Green Deal has to be a convincing win-win for consumers and not just a break-even calculation supported by a lot of finger-crossing – the costs of going green must be less than the savings generated.
  3. The Mayor of London must bring together local authorities and London’s housing associations to put in place an implementation plan that sees our social housing benefitting first from the Green Deal in London – reaching many of those households most in need of support whilst also ensuring a programme of scale and impact is delivered from the outset. (This, in turn, can also go on to create a perfect platform for moving in to other sectors, most notably low income households in the private rented sector.)
  4. The Department for Energy and Climate Change must ensure that the necessary mechanisms, incentives and resources (including the potential for under-spent Community Energy Saving Programme budgets) are in place so that the Green Deal can be launched across London at a level and impact unlikely to be seen anywhere else.

None of this will be plain sailing and that some will say it can’t be done. But we all know that we need to think big. But just thinking is not enough – we now need to plan and deliver big!

London is in a powerful place to do this with the Mayor of London providing leadership and a strong local government sector and big hitting housing associations to ensure wide implementation.

Let’s work together and flick the switch to GO for green and GO for the Green Deal.

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