The scrapping of the £25 emissions charge has put a large dent in both the Mayor’s green credentials and his finances. He might try to preserve the former by saying the emissions charge wouldn’t deliver on reducing climate change or by touting his plan to do wonders for walking and cycling, but we have yet to see any real financial commitment, and delivering a Velib-style bike hire scheme and cycle corridors takes major capital. The previous mayor agreed to spend £500m over the next ten years on plans to increase cycling by 400 per cent, but it will require real political will to continue that level of funding.
Giving up the £25 charge will also force Londoner's to cover Porsche's £400,000k court costs. Incidentally, £400,000k happens to be the amount which Boris has cut from TfL’s successful "Travel Awareness" campaign, which aims to talk people out of using their cars. This cut in one of London’s cutting edge transport policies is more evidence that Boris is not taking traffic reduction or pollution reduction seriously.
Another worrying sign that Boris is intent on taking a step backward, is his refusal to honour the existing goal to make all London’s buses hybrids by 2012. These buses will cut pollution by over a third, thus dealing with climate change and London’s air quality problems. Nothing is certain at this point, but Boris has talked repeatedly of filling the gap in the funding of his new Routemaster design with money allocated for the hybrids.
If Boris genuinely believes technology can clean up our planet, why must we defend the existing hydrogen vehicle programme? As a Green, I recognise that only a reduction in consumption and a change of habit will deliver real change, but if the mayor wants a technology-based solution, he ought to put his money where his mouth is.
To be kind, I’m assuming Boris' decisions are based on a misunderstanding climate change as opposed to a complete denial of its existence. Nevertheless, if we are to avoid the United States' disastrous, SUV-based transportation situation, Boris must make better environmental decisions. Giving in to Porsche, an icon of excess, is a sign that he's still looking at the world through the wrong end of a telescope.