Sadiq Khan attacks ‘delayers’ as new threat to tackling climate change

01 July 2019

·            Mayor says delaying action on climate change poses just as much of a threat as climate denial

-           Sadiq backs US-style Green New Deal for the UK

·         Ministers have ended solar tariffs, blocked onshore wind projects and cut energy efficiency funding for fuel-poor homes

·         Mayor addresses climate experts, communities and young campaigners at event to launch London’s first Climate Action Week (1-8 July 2019) with 150 events focused on climate solutions


The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan today warns that the threat of climate change ‘deniers’ has been replaced by the threat of climate ‘delayers’ - people who say the right things on climate change but put off action at every opportunity and in many cases actually make things worse.


At a City Hall event today (Monday) to kick start the capital’s first London Climate Action Week, the Mayor will call for an end to the delaying tactics of the government and criticise climate delayers for saying we must act, but not taking the necessary action.


The Mayor will point out that politicians who previously expressed scepticism about climate change have changed their public views in recent years. Boris Johnson, the former Mayor, 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’ that are ‘without foundation’*, but now says he will legislate for the UK to become net zero-carbon. Sadiq will warn that warm words with no action to back them up do nothing to tackle climate change.

The Mayor has declared a climate emergency in London and is helping bring together world-leading climate expertise from across business, community, NGO, and cultural sectors for events focusing on local, national and international climate action and solutions, to mark London’s first Climate Action Week.


New research shows how London’s strength as a global climate hub is growing, in spite of the challenges of Brexit uncertainty. In London, total sales of Low Carbon Goods and services have grown from £20.9bn to £39.7bn over the last decade (2007/8– 2017/18), a total increase of 90 per cent, with a 20 per cent increase between 2015/16 and 2017/18 alone. 

Meanwhile, the number of people working in the sector in London has grown from 155,953 to 246,073 over the same period, an increase of 58 per cent. London also has over 97 per cent of the UK market for carbon finance. The capital was recently recognised by the Carbon Disclosure Project for its leadership – thanks to the Mayor’s 1.5C degree compatible plan and zero-carbon targets.

However, the UK will not be able to tackle climate change without urgent, additional government intervention. Now that ministers have finally agreed to a net-zero carbon target, the Mayor is demanding urgent action including:


·               Ending the sale of fossil-fuelled vehicles by 2030, rather than 2040;  

·               Providing much 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 meaningful and effective carbon standards for our existing buildings

·               Declaring a climate emergency and put forward a ‘Green New Deal’ so that the UK creates 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 of London, Sadiq Khan, is expected to say: “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. Take Boris Johnson, who only just a few years ago seemed to question the human links to climate change, describing concerns about warming weather and human-made climate change as a ‘primitive fear’ that is ‘without foundation’.


 “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.”


Dr Afsheen Rashid MBE, Co-founder and Co-CEO at Repowering London said: "Unlocking the full potential of community energy would bring immeasurable benefits to both Londoners and the planet. Community energy will not just to generate clean, green energy to power our biggest city, but also will strengthen communities and put people at the heart of the energy system. I am delighted to be a part of this year's London Climate Action Week. In the new era of climate emergency, it is vital that there is ongoing support from the Government for robust initiatives that will lead the UK towards a net-zero future."


Polly Billington, Director of UK100 said: “It’s not technology that is holding back our ability to avoid devastating climate change: it’s political will and access to finance. Getting clean energy schemes “investor ready” is exactly the role government at all levels should play in transforming our energy system. We will all benefit now: clean energy is cheaper now than most fossil fuels and doesn’t pollute our air either. And local schemes aren’t just a “nice to have” addition but essential to making a resilient energy system fit for the future.”


Nick Mabey, CEO and founder of climate change think tank E3G said “London has the largest “climate cluster” of any global capital but could have an even bigger positive global impact. London Climate Action Week helps organisations collaborate more effectively and engage their global networks to deliver solutions to the climate emergency.”

London Climate Action Week involves industry leaders and campaigners of all ages who are helping drive global climate innovation. Events will explore clean energy and energy efficiency, zero emission transport, adaptation and resilience, climate finance and investment, and campaigning for stronger legislation.  


Key events include:
 . 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 host a Green Finance Summit with 900 businesses discussing ways to expand London’s thriving green finance sector.

As part of his commitment to supporting solar energy, the Mayor has also launched a new round of funding for local community 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.

Notes to editors

1. To see the range of events available for Climate Action Week visit 

2. New City Hall research (available on on green businesses has revealed that:

·        In 2017/18 London’s low carbon and environmental goods and services sector was worth £39.7bn in sales and employed 246,073 people across 13,906 companies.

·        In 2015/16 London’s low carbon and environmental goods and services sector was worth £32.98bn in sales and employed 207,049 people across 11,733 companies.  That is an overall growth rate in sales of 20% and over 18% for both employees and companies in the first two years of the Mayor’s term.

·        Carbon Finance - London has over 97% of the UK market for Carbon Finance and this sub-sector had sales of around £12.7bn in 2017/18, up from £9.63bn in 2015/16, and over 3,800 companies and employed over 50,000 people across these companies.

·        London competes well within the UK market and makes up about 21% of the UK’s low carbon and environmental goods and services sales and has the highest level of sales in 13 of the 24 sub-sectors that make up the low carbon and environmental goods and services. It is also second in another five of the sub-sectors.

3.The Mayor has convened London Climate Action Week and is working with E3G and other partners to convene events

4. Figures from DEFRA last week also showed that levels of fuel poverty have increased in the capital – a further 57,000 households in London are now fuel poor- a 17% increase , despite a national decline.  This means that 398,000 households (11.8%) in London are now fuel poor, with  32 of 33 London boroughs seeing an increase. Fuel poverty in London is now the highest it’s been since 2003.  

 5. *Links to references and  


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