As cities around the world aim for 100% clean energy, London appears to be falling behind. At least as far as distributed solar power is concerned.
True, it now has a beautiful solar bridge and some fancy electric buses but, as Adam Vaughan writes over at The Guardian, the capital is "rubbish" when it comes to solar power:
"...Londoners have not taken to solar with anything like the gusto of other parts of the country. Even with some of the most affluent areas in the UK and a relatively sun-friendly latitude by UK standards, the city has the lowest amount of installed solar of any English region."
Alongside other factors like density and conservation rules, many of London's homeowners are, says Vaughan, simply too rich to care much about their energy bills. Add to that the fact that Londoners are more transient than other parts of the country, and it means they move on too often to make investing in solar a priority.This story is really about much more than just solar.
Lloyd has already written that inequality is a major impediment to greener, better cities. And Vaughan's article appears to prove his point.
While London's super rich appear to have little incentive to invest in solar power or other efficiency measures, lower income Londoners are often left renting—meaning they have neither the home to invest in, nor the long-term relationship to place that would allow them to advocate for, a greener, better city. After all, why ask your landlord to insulate if you'll be moving on next year? Why push your council in Shoreditch for bike lanes if you'll be living in Hanwell when your lease is up?
Perhaps London needs to follow San Diego's lead, hiring residents of affordable housing to install solar power. Perhaps it needs to do more to tackle fuel poverty.
Or perhaps we all need to think about the economic, ecological and social downsides of allowing inequality to balloon unchecked.