The Mayor and GLA on Environmental Preservation
Undeniably, London is not only one of the greatest cities in the entire globe but also one of the most successful cities as far as production and competitive economy. The city is famous for its enthusiasm, style, diversity, entrepreneurship and innovation. In order to manage growth of London in all aspects, political leaders saw the necessity of establishing a body that will be in charge or rather control and promote developments in the entire city. This marked the origin of the Greater London Authority (GLA). Precisely, a referendum was carried out to determine the opinion of the public on the establishment of this body. It was noted that majority of the public were in favor of the idea and the Greater London Authority was put in place by 2000. The body comprises the Mayor, who is usually directly elected, about seven hundred stuff members who undertake various duties within the organization and twenty five members who have been given inspection powers, (Greater London Authority, 2010). Most individuals regard this body as being a unique form of government of the London City.
The powers of GLA originate from the Greater London Authority Act 2007 as well as Greater London Authority Act 1999. In order to operate effectively, the Greater London Authority was given powers manage various sectors which include: policing, economic development, emergency and fire planning, as well as transport. Additionally, four other bodies were established under the Greater London Authority, each in charge of the above mentioned areas, so as to increase the efficiency of GLA, (Dow, 2009). The four bodies are: Metropolitan Police Authority, London Development Agency, London Fire and emergency Planning Authority, and Transport for London. It is also of importance to note that, being a governmental body, the Greater London Authority is fully funded by the government, although it also attains its income from other sources such as through taxation.
Powers and Responsibilities of GLA and the Mayor
As mentioned previously, London is one of the greatest cities in the world with a large population, comprised of both local people and other people from the various parts of the world. Thus, the Mayor and his team were given the responsibility of ensuring that everything in the City operates smoothly, with an objective of promoting the wellbeing of the City dwellers. The main responsibility of the Greater London Authority is to strategically govern the entire London. The body was given powers to coordinate all the local authorities in the City, (Greater London Authority, 2006). During its establishment, GLA was given same local governmental powers and responsibilities with the City of London Corporation and the councils of 32 London boroughs.
The Mayor is the head of the GLA as a whole. He is the one who makes strategies and policies that affects the entire city. These policies and strategies affect such areas as: transport, policing, economic development and regeneration, housing, planning and development, fire and emergency planning, biodiversity, climate change and energy as well as dealing with health inequalities. As a matter of fact, some services are run by councils of boroughs; however, based on the size of the city, there is need for London-wide plans and strategies to be made, (Dow, 2009). Thus, the major roles of the mayor are: putting together policies and plans for the Londoners, acting as a spokesperson for London which means that he acts a representative of the City both locally and abroad, and managing the nine billion dollars budget of London in providing the previously mentioned services. The major responsibility of the Mayor is to improve the prosperity and wellbeing of the City and its dwellers. In order to achieve this goal, he has to ensure that there is promotion of the economy, social development as well as the environment in the City as a whole.
In addition to these major responsibilities, the other responsibilities of the Mayor are: management of Parliament Square Garden and Trafalgar Square. Moreover, he has a say on which kind of building projects can be implemented in the City and at what time. In order to carry out all these responsibilities, the Mayor has to work intimately the councils of boroughs who have been given the responsibilities of providing various services within the City. For instance, he has to work hand in hand with these boroughs in issues of budgeting and appointments in boards of the various bodies under his leadership, (Andrew, Duncan, Jessica & James, 2008). Notably, the Mayor being the head of GLA does not mean that he is not answerable to anybody. He is accountable to the London Assembly which scrutinizes his actions. Besides, the he can be questioned by the general public at the People’s Question Time which takes place twice a year.
Literature Review on Environmental Strategies and Policies by the Mayor in Past five years
As per the views of the Mayor, one of the major objectives of London is to be noted as one of the leading cities both at home and worldwide in environmental improvement. In order to attain these objectives, strategies which would deal with climate change, reduction of pollution, development of low carbon economy, and consumption of few resources should be put into place. Consequently, the Mayor has projected different plans and strategies that should be executed to manage environmental issues. One of these strategies is the London Climate Change Adaptation Strategy, (Andrew, Duncan, Jessica & James, 2008). The major goals of this strategy is to deal with three key issues as far as the environment is concerned: identification of the probable risks within the City and who might be affected currently, exploration the effect of climate change concerning the risks of heatwave, drought and flood, and finally, analysis of the actions that could be undertaken to deal with these problems as well as well as those who will be responsible for these actions.
Based on scientific studies, has been prophesized that the United Kingdom would be experiencing warmer wetter winters and hotter drier summers in the near future due to climatic changes. Hence, it has been forecasted that, there are high chances that London will be experiencing floods and droughts in the days to come. This explains why the Mayor has called for precautionary actions in preparation for of these risks. As an example, the responsibility of identifying areas at risk and establishing plans to handle probable problems in these areas has been given to the Drain London Forum. According to most scholars, this is regarded as a visionary strategy. It is expected that it will make the City prepared for the unknown future, bearing in mind that the effects of climate change have started being observed in most parts of the world.
The second policy that has been enacted aims at the reduction of the effects of greenhouse emissions in London. According to the Greater London Authority (2007), cities in the entire world consume about 74% of the world’s energy. Studies also indicate that about 80% of greenhouse gas emissions take place in the cities. In the United Kingdom, London alone produces or rather emits approximately 77% of these gases; which is about 40 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. Research indicates that, the percentage of these emissions will increase in the near due to the rapid population increase, if nothing is done about it. Based on the urgency of this problem, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions has been ranked as one of the priorities by the Mayor. According to him, the emissions should be reduced up to approximately 67% fifteen years from now. In order to achieve this, three policies will be put into place. The first policy is that which aims at improving the efficiency of energy. The second policy will be aimed at improving or rather increasing the efficiency of supply of energy. Lastly, buildings in the city will be constructed based on plans that take into consideration climate change standards.
Water Recycling Policy is another policy that was introduced by the mayor in the recent past. According to Andrew, Duncan, Jessica & James (2008), the policy is expected to improve the economic status of the City as it will lead to a saving of about 90 sterling pounds annually. This is based on the claim that a lot of resources are spent in managing wastes that are produced in the City and if the policy can reduce these wastes, then, it will lead to a saving of the resources spent on cleaning these wastes. Based on waste management studies that have been undertaken, about 20 tonnes of wastes are produced annually in London; this implies that, in a single day about 5 tonnes of waste is produced in the City. As per the Water Recycling policy, there are two ways in which waste reduction will be undertaken: through the execution of the Business Waste Strategy as well as the execution of Municipal Waste Management Strategy, (Greater London Authority, 2009).
Besides water, improving air quality in London has been ranked among the most important environmental objectives. The objective of cleaning London includes reducing air pollution. In order to achieve this, policies must be enacted as well as implemented towards the same. Thus, the Mayor has come up with various policies which affect different sectors, which could possibly reduce air pollution in the City. It has been discovered that in London, the transport sector has a greater percentage of contribution to air pollution. Consequently, the first policy that has been outlined is cleaning fleet of buses in the City so as to be conventional to the Euro IV standards of emissions for NOx and PM10.
The other policy is that which is intended to clean taxi and private Hire Vehicle fleet by introducing age limits. This will help to clear from the roads older and most probably the most polluting vehicles. (Greater London Authority, 2010). Third, is the policy that intends to introduce by 2012, vans and minibuses which are conventional to Euro III standards in the Low Emission Zone (LEZ). Lastly, is the policy aimed at bringing in new NOx for LEZ in the next five years. Besides the above mentioned policies that affect the transport industry, other policies affecting various sectors have also been implemented. For instance, steps have been undertaken to enlighten the general public on the importance of cutting down air pollution. Additionally, new standards regarding emissions from joint heat and power systems and biomass boilers have been set. Lastly, steps have been made in bring up to date practices of reducing dust from the construction sites.
Last but not least, are the water conservation policies. As far as water issues are concerned, the Mayor aims at creating of an environment that can preserve and protect the welfare of the Londoners. He asserted that, this objective could only be attained only if water resources would be preserved. Based on the fact that climate change effects have already been felt in some parts of the world, he agrees that this would not be an easy task. The ever increasing population has made the situation even more difficult, (Greater London Authority, 2009). One policy that the Mayor has proposed in this case is that which will control water usage in the City. Water supply will be managed through reducing the loss of water as a result of leaking, water reclamation, efficient water use, and developing water resources that have minimal climate alteration. The other policy intended to encourage the city dwellers to learn how they should preserve water for the future. Lastly, is the policy that is concerned with water disposal. Since the implementation of the three policies, significant change as far as water use in the City is concerned.
Analysis of the gap between policy, public policy initiatives and general practice
Most people assert that, the impacts of the policies that have been implemented as well as proposed are yet to have the intended impacts. To be more precise, there exists a gap between policy, public policy and general practice among the various parties. Firstly, awareness among the general public as far as policy implementation is concerned is a very crucial factor. Unfortunately, it seems that, most individuals in London are not aware of the policies and their intended impacts. Therefore, they do not see the need for them to comply or rather support these policies. As such, before the Mayor and his team undertake the implementation of the policies, it is advisable for them to increase awareness among the general public on the importance of preserving the environment, (Greater London Authority, 2010). This could be possibly done through forums and advertising more especially using billboards as well as other means. Thus, through awareness creation, the general public would learn to take responsibility of environmental preservation beginning from their immediate environment at their homes.
Secondly, the entire process needs a lot of resources for the policies to turn out successfully. As an illustration, studies indicate that it will take approximately 62 billion pounds to reduce carbon dioxide emission in the next fifteen years as it has been projected by the Mayor and his team. Unfortunately, GLA does not generate enough income which would enable it to achieve this dream. It will only depend on the government assistance for it to effectively implement this strategy. However, we have noted that, the government is already providing funds for the operation of this body, (Greater London Authority, 2009). Thus, it is not certain that the government will be ready to extend its help based on the fact that there are other pressing issues that urgently need resources. According to researchers, one of the reasons of the delay in implementation of projects is lack of or delay in releasing funds. Indeed, this is one of the explanations that have been given for the delay or/ and failure of some of the policies that have been already proposed by the Mayor and his team.
Thirdly, is the issue of technology that will be involved in the transformation process. It is evident that London is one of the most developed cities in the world in terms of technology. However, it has been noted that new technology is very vital in the implementation process to supplement the existing technology. According to the Mayor, homes in London will be constructed should be water and energy efficient, (Greater London Authority, 2007). It is also expected that the already constructed houses would be transformed to meet this objective. This calls for new technology so as to attain these goals. Moreover, different kinds of vehicles are to be produced which have a lower rate of carbon emission. This will include electric and hybrid vehicles. It is obvious that this will not be easy from the technological point of view and a lot needs to be done in terms of technology.
Lastly, is the issue of economic status of various individuals within the City. Undeniably, the welfare of the Londoners have has improved lately. However, remarkable gaps still exist between different groups. Thus, the policies affect different groups in different ways. For example, it will be economically challenging for the low income groups to turn to low carbon emission sources of energy. It is obvious that, this category of individuals will try to resist implementation of such policies, (Greater London Authority, 2009). Hence, before the Mayor and his team starts the implementation of environmental policies, they should try to come up with strategies that could help to incorporate in their plans those who might be negatively affected by the intended policies.
It is obvious that different opinions will arise whenever changes are to be implemented in the society and organizations. In this case, most people agree that the Mayor’s priorities are right from environmental conservation point of view. However, some are of a different opinion. They argue that, before implementing these policies, the Mayor should first address the issue of unemployment among majority of the youths as well as the increasing gap between the rich and the poor in London, (Greater London Authority, 2010). The recent economic crisis has made the situation even worse. As noted early, the difference in income levels between different groups is a hindrance to proper implementation of environmental preservation policies.
However, generally most individual are in favor of the policies, more especially the learned class. They assert that, for the better future of the Londoners, environmental preservation should not be left behind when drawing development plans. Precisely, environmental preservation goes hand in hand with development. For some time now, air pollution has been one of the biggest environmental challenges in London. Thus, by introducing policies aimed at reducing or rather eradicating this problem will have a positive impact to the wellbeing of the Londoners. This will include but not limited to improving health status of most people in London, (Greater London Authority, 2009).
Effectiveness of the Mayor and GLA on environmental issues
Despite of the challenges that the Mayor and his team have encountered, it is evident that they have done a lot in improving the environment in the City. Some of the proposed strategies have already been implemented and others are yet to be implemented. For instance, some policies meant for reduction of carbon dioxide in the transport sector have been implemented, although there was some delay in their implementation, (Greater London Authority, 2006). Thus, it can be argued that, the Mayor and his team have done a remarkable job. However, there is still a lot to be done as far as preservation of the environment in London is concerned.
Andrew, W., Duncan, W., Jessica, N., & James, F., 2008. Key Actions to reduce Waste in London: Final report to the Greater London Authority. Bristol: Eunomia Research & Consulting Ltd.
Dow, J.A., 2009. Rubbish in- Resource Out: Design Ideas for Waste Facilities in London. London: Greater London Authority.
Greater London Authority., 2009. Leading to a Greener London: An Environment Programme for the Capital. Greater London Authority.
Greater London Authority., 2007. The Mayor’s Draft Water Strategy: Draft for Consultation with the London Assembly and Functional Bodies. London: Greater London Authority
Greater London Authority., 2010. The Mayor’s Vision for London. London: Greater London Authority.
Greater London Authority., 2010. The Draft Climate Change Adaptation Strategy for London: Public Consultation Draft. London: Greater London Authority.
Greater London Authority., 2006. Review of the National Air Quality Strategy Consultation: Response from the Mayor of London. London: Greater London Authority.