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London Mayor warns of climate change ‘delayers’ threat

Sadiq Khan warns that climate change delayers, not deniers, are today’s biggest obstacle to meaningfully reducing carbon emissions.


The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has warned that the threat of climate change deniers has been replaced by the threat of climate ‘delayers’ – people, particularly politicians, who “say the right things on climate change but put off action”.

Khan says in many cases, these so-called delayers actually make things worse.


At a City Hall event this week to kick-start the UK capital’s first London Climate Action Week, the Mayor called for an end to the delaying tactics of the government.


The Mayor criticised Boris Johnson, the former Mayor of London and currently running for leadership of the Conservative Party, noting that Johnson previously cast doubt on the links between climate change, weather and human action, describing concerns about warming weather and human-made climate change as a ‘primitive fear’ and ‘without foundation’.


Johnson, running alongside Jeremy Hunt to become Prime Minister as leader of the Tory Party, now says he will legislate for the UK to become net zero-carbon, should he be elected.


However, Khan is urging specific and urgent action to back up these pledges, including:

  • Ending the sale of fossil-fuelled vehicles by 2030, rather than 2040;
  • Providing greater support for solar and community energy schemes, such as cancelling the planned VAT increase on solar and energy saving;
  • Devolving powers to London to set carbon standards for its existing buildings;
  • Declaring a national climate emergency and putting forward a ‘Green New Deal’ to create jobs and delivers the changes needed to transport, buildings and other infrastructure to achieve the target of net-zero greenhouse gases by 2050.

The Mayor has declared a climate emergency in London, as have other cities around the world.


The Mayor has declared a climate emergency in London, as have other cities around the world.


Khan said: “For years, climate change deniers have attempted to thwart climate action. From the oil companies that knew for decades about the link between their products and global warming, but kept it hidden and refused to act, to the industry of lobbyists, dodgy think-tanks and pseudo-scientists that sprang up to cast doubt on what is undeniably a consensus view among the real scientists and experts. Not to mention the politicians – including President Trump – who shamefully sought, and still seek to undermine, climate science for their own ends.

“Here in the UK, I’m pleased to say public disavowal, denial or scepticism of the science by our political leaders has been largely relegated to the margins. But there are examples of it.


“But today, the biggest obstacle to meaningfully reducing our carbon emissions isn’t the climate change deniers. We know they’ve already lost the argument and that they’re on the wrong side of history. The biggest obstacle is the climate change delayers. On the face of it, these individuals may sound more reasonable – but their agenda is equally as threatening and pernicious as the one peddled by the deniers.


"They say we must act, but then they refuse to put in place the plans, action or funding we desperately need – often citing the costs to business and consumers as their pretext when we know the costs of not acting are far greater and far graver.


"We need to hold these climate delayers to account and put pressure on the next Prime Minister to urgently show real leadership.”


Climate Action Week


A number of events will take place as part of London Climate Action Week, including a Green Schools Summit bringing together 200 London schoolchildren with academics, climate scientists and politicians to discuss the climate crisis.

Artist Olafur Eliasson will lead a discussion at the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall exploring the potential of artists and art institutions to address global sustainability challenges and inspire change.


The City of London will also host a Green Finance Summit with 900 businesses discussing ways to expand London’s green finance sector.


Khan has also launched a new round of funding for community solar energy projects in London. Community groups can apply for up to £15,000 to cover the costs associated with making their energy project ‘investor-ready’.


The first two rounds of funding are already providing development grants to 31 different community energy projects in London, supporting 17 different community groups. Together these projects are expected to deliver 1.4MW of solar energy, the Mayor’s Office says.


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