Mayor Boris threatens to "shame" City's green laggards

icon_news.gifNews - 7th January 2009

London mayor Boris Johnson today warned that businesses in the capital that do not take steps to reduce their carbon footprint could be named and shamed by his administration.

Speaking at a City Hall event to promote environmental initiatives from the London Development Agency (LDA), Johnson praised those firms already taking steps to cut emissions, but warned that he was willing to use the stick as well as the carrot to force the rest of the business community to follow suit.

He called on more firms to sign up to the London Development Agency's Green500 and the Better Building Partnership intiaitives, which were launched by previous mayor Ken Livingstone and respectively aim to reward the capital's best environmental performers and advise firms on how to cut energy use in their buildings.

"I'm not averse to using the utensil of shame," he warned. "We could have a non-green 300 to go with our Green500."

The Green500 programme – which will contribute to a London target of overall CO2 reduction of 60 per cent by 2025 – has until now been about rewards rather than punishments. Businesses that sign up receive a free assessment of their carbon footprint and advice on how to reduce it, including links to suppliers and other businesses to share best practice.

The most successful are then rewarded at an awards ceremony, giving them favourable publicity from the mayor.

Johnson was keen to emphasise that evidence from the 154 businesses that had already signed up to the scheme – including HSBC, EDF Energy, Marks & Spencer, The John Lewis Partnership, Eversheds and T-Mobile – showed that actions taken to reduce carbon also made good business sense and had led to £2.5m of total savings for members in the first year of the scheme.

Taxi firm Addison-Lee, for example, is expecting to make significant carbon reductions by cutting pick-up distances by half, saving 16,000 miles a day and £185,000 over three years.

"Joining Green500 is a win-win situation for us – in tough economic times we are taking positive steps to boost our efficiency and save money, as well as do our bit to reduce our carbon footprint," said Liam Griffin, chief executive at the company.

But it seems the promise of awards may not be enough to get some sectors on board. The City's financial services firms are noticeably absent from the list, and only two retail banks, ING and HSBC, feature.

When asked what the mayor's office would be doing to get the banking sector to take environmental commitments more seriously, one mayor's official confirmed: "We are definitely looking at the naming and shaming option."

The second initiative, known as the Better Buildings Partnership, aims to get commercial property owners – of which 11 are now members – and tenants to work together more closely, with the aim of cutting 500,000 tonnes of carbon emissions in the next three years.

The LDA today also unveiled a new drive to retrofit many of London's buildings with measures such as improved boiler controls, energy-efficient lighting, improved insulation and solar panel water heating.

Peter Clarke, executive officer at property manager British Land, said that the success of the scheme depended on the extent to which owners and tenants could be encouraged to share environmental responsibilities. "We are currently testing new green lease principles with clauses that we hope will be included in all lease documentations in the future," he said.

Source: businessgreen