Boris Johnson: All Promise, No Delivery


Boris Johnson has made a great deal about his green initiatives – from cycle hire to electric vehicles. But as has been well documented, the Mayor’s record leaves a lot to be desired.

The cycle hire scheme has only been used by a fraction of Londoners and is costing the taxpayer millions despite a manifesto promise it would be free.

His record on electric vehicles is even weaker.

Johnson announced with much fanfare at the Seoul C40 Climate Change Summit in 2009 that he was going to make London the “electric car capital of Europe”. His aim was to get 100,000 electric vehicles on London’s streets, served by 25,000 charging points and 1,000 electrical vehicles in the City Hall fleet by 2015. As we approach the end of his mayoral term, the question is: has Johnson delivered on those promises?

A new report from the London Assembly’s environment committee finds that, of the 25,000 promised recharging points, only 1,000 have been delivered. Of the 100,000 electric cars the Mayor wants to see on London’s streets, only 2,313 have so far been registered. The Mayor has also failed to take a lead with his own City Hall fleet. Of the 1,000 vehicles he promised to electrify, only 48 have been delivered.

Having been in power for nearly four years this is a pretty pathetic record and indicates a lack of attention and seriousness to these issues. When there is headline or a photo opportunity to grab the Mayor is there leading the charge, but when it comes to actually implementing and delivering effective policies, he is nowhere to be seen. It is time we had a Mayor who keeps on top of delivery and actually does what he says he will, rather than taking a hands-free laissez-faire approach.

The reality is that delivery has been much slower in London than we would expect and hope for. Lessons can certainly be learned from other cities who are forging ahead with their own electric vehicle revolution. Paris and Sunderland both have more charging points per person than London. They have shown that a clear strategy is essential to ensure that the locations of the charging points are appropriate for drivers. Sunderland have demonstrated the importance of providing sufficient rapid chargers at key points on major roads to help ease drivers’ “range anxiety”. This would make electric vehicles much more appealing to longer distance drivers.
Boris Johnson has no clear strategy and his lack of progress is the result. His grandiose promise to make London “the electric car capital of Europe” and his failure to get anywhere near his goal exposes the gulf between rhetoric and reality.

Murad Qureshi is Labour’s spokesperson for the Environment on the London Assembly

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