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Assembly warning on 2012 Games

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The London Assembly has warned that significant work needs to be done if the 2012 Olympic Games is to deliver on its environmental pledges.

The body has doubts that the Games will be the most sustainable sporting event in recent history and it may not be as “transformative” as planned.

Darren Johnson, chairman of the London Assembly’s Environment Committee, admitted that organisers should be commended for their green pledges, but warned that environmental standards must not be compromised while preparations for the sporting spectacle were ongoing.

The committee’s report, Going for Green, concluded that not securing more electric vehicles for the Olympic fleet was a “missed opportunity”, while it warned that it is still not clear how carbon emissions from travel to London will be reduced and a target on renewable electricity during the staging phase of the Games is unlikely to be met.

London’s air quality, which has also not improved as hoped since 2005, is also a “particular concern”.

Forecasts suggest there will be harmful levels of the pollutant nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in crucial parts of London in 2012.

The report called for action to ensure NO2 levels are cut to bring them closer to EU limits by the time of the Games.

Mr Johnson said: “London’s air quality is a particular cause for concern, as failing to reduce levels of pollutants could have consequences for London’s international reputation as well as the health of those attending the event.

“We also need to see clear targets for re-using temporary materials, more detail on how organisers will promote sustainable travel and plans for recycling facilities on site and around London.”

London’s 2012’s approach to mapping its carbon footprint is “groundbreaking” and the aim to reuse or recycle 90% of temporary materials was also seen as a positive move.

The committee called on organisers to produce a plan to promote sustainable travel triggered from the time a ticket is sold to help cut carbon emissions from spectators’ journeys to the Games.

Organisers also need to make clear how they will quantify future carbon savings, which they believe will result from the Games, to compensate for unavoidable emissions needed to stage the event.

London 2012 and the Greater London Authority (GLA) should set targets for the reuse of temporary materials and say how it will be monitored was also recommended, the committee added.

By June 2011, the GLA should publish plans for how London 2012 sustainability standards will be applied at the live sites they will run and in cultural events which the Mayor sponsors throughout the capital, as well as how these will be monitored and reported on.

Recommendations also called for best-practice recycling facilities on site and around London by June 2011.

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