London Mayor aims swipe at UK chancellor's lack of support for green economy

Affable, controversial and never short of a juicy quote or two, London Mayor Boris Johnson has strapped himself into next year’s election race early by announcing last week that he is to seek a seat in Parliament come next May.

In doing so, Johnson has already sounded off on a range of political issues, most notably his recent criticism of Chancellor George Osborne’s reluctance to support environmental policies on the grounds that they are "bad for business".

New York-born Johnson, speaking to leading newspaper the Sunday Times, took issue with Chancellor Osborne’s claim that “we’re not going to save the planet by putting our country out of business”, recalling his own success as London Mayor by stressing that “you can have growth that is environmentally friendly”.

"When you say growth, people are very nervous," Johnson espoused. "They say: ‘What does it mean for me?’ I’m all in favor of my income going up and my kids getting a home, but do I want lorries trundling down my street?"

The Mayor has attacked Osborne’s lack of support for a proposed airport in the Thames Estuary. Dubbed "Boris Island", Johnson’s pursuit of the airport appears at odds with his green rhetoric, with critics arguing that the Mayor’s inaction on environmental issues has often been at odds with his avowed stance.

London’s air quality ranking has suffered during his tenure, and progress on the capital’s renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable transport initiatives has been sluggish. Despite a run of poor results, the Mayor has this week signed-off a $80 million program designed to retrofit some of the city’s least energy efficient properties via the Re:NEW scheme.

"Many families are rightly concerned at the cost of their energy bills, so I’m delighted to be able to put in place a program of energy-saving measures for homes across the capital," Johnson said. "This will result in renovations that lower energy bills for thousands of residents." The program intends to save some 93,000 tonnes of carbon emissions annually.