"One man can make all the difference"

Meeting: 
MQT on 2014-11-19
Session date: 
November 19, 2014
Reference: 
2014/4203
Question By: 
Jenny Jones
Organisation: 
City Hall Greens
Asked Of: 
The Mayor
Category: 

Question

During your recent book launch you said "the point of the 'Churchill Factor' is that one man can make all the difference". To avert the biggest threat of our generation, catastrophic and irreversible climate change, what difference will you make in the lead up to and actual Paris Climate Change Summit next year?

Answer

Answer for "One man can make all the difference"

Answer for "One man can make all the difference"

Answered By: 
The Mayor

2014/4203 - “One Man Can Make All the Difference”

Jenny Jones

 

During your recent book launch you said, “The point of the ‘Churchill Factor’ is that one man can make all the difference”.  To avert the biggest threat of our generation, catastrophic and irreversible climate change, what difference will you make in the lead-up to and actual Paris Climate Change Summit next year?

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Yes, thanks, Jenny.  I am going to ignore your very kind plug for my book. 

 

Jenny Jones AM:  I have heard there are mistakes in it, but we will not talk about those now.

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  There are no mistakes in it.  You are welcome to read it and you will find much to your advantage in it, as many thousands are at the moment.

 

Jenny Jones AM:  You do make a point of leadership, though, and you are in a ‑‑

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Can I just answer your question?

 

Jenny Jones AM:  ‑‑ particularly favourable position, are you not?

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Yes.  On what we are doing with the Climate Change Summit.

 

Jenny Jones AM:  In the lead-up.

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Under this mayoralty, London’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions have been reduced, as you know, by 12%, a stunning achievement.  London’s per capita emissions continue to be the lowest of any region in the United Kingdom at 4.9 tons.  London is close to achieving the interim target of 20% reduction with three years to go.  We have done a huge amount.  I will tell you how we have done it.  We have done it through RE:FIT, RE:NEW and decentralised energy in public sector buildings and schools.  We have saved 30,000 ton of CO2 through retrofitting 100,000 homes.  That is saving 22,000 ton of CO2 annually.  We will continue with all those measures.  You know what we are doing with decentralised energy, the London Plan policy to reduce CO2 automatically in buildings that we approve and in low CO2 energy generation.  We have a meeting just this afternoon on that subject which I shall be addressing.

 

Jenny Jones AM:  I am really glad about that.  Are you going to go to the Paris Summit?  It is in December next year.

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I am told that you want me to stay in London.  You cannot have it both ways.

 

Jenny Jones AM:  Please do not confuse Labour and the Greens.  We are substantially different.

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Yes.  Can I say how much more effective a left-wing opposition the Greens are turning out to be than Labour?

 

Jenny Jones AM:  I am going to use that on a Green Party leaflet.  You are very kind. 

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I wonder whether left-wing people agree with me that the Greens are increasingly the natural alternative.

 

Jenny Jones AM:  Perhaps you would come down to Brighton for us and help.  Can I get back to the point?  Are you going to go to the Paris Summit next year?

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  We are looking at it.  I am not ruling it out, but it is not in the diary at the moment.

 

Jenny Jones AM:  Perhaps I could urge you to put it in the diary.  Quite honestly, the new agreement that has just happened between the United States of America and China actually changes the whole global view of how well we can battle against climate change.  Having you in Paris would send out some really big signals about what is happening here in London and what could happen in the United Kingdom. 

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  My friend Mr Biggs [John Biggs AM] is inviting me to go to Paris permanently.

 

Jenny Jones AM:  I do not care about what he says.  Could you please just answer my question?

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Jenny, quite seriously, I am looking at the Paris Summit.  I take your point about wanting London to show leadership.  London would in any event be admirably represented by Mr Matthew Pencharz [Senior Advisor - Environment & Energy, GLA], luxuriantly moustachioed at the moment as he is.  He has been receiving all sorts of prizes around the world recently for some of the things that he has been doing.

 

Jenny Jones AM:  I am more interested in you because it does send out a signal if we send our top person to these events.

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Matthew is a pretty top person.

 

Jenny Jones AM:  No, I am sorry, Mr Mayor, you must understand the difference between you going and an advisor going to a summit of that sort.

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Are you going, Jenny?

 

Jenny Jones AM:  Yes, I can, if you like. 

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I am not paying for you to go.

 

Darren Johnson AM:  She will go if you will.

 

Jenny Jones AM:  Yes.  No, Darren said it.  I will go if you will.  The thing is I am concerned that you do not appear really to be 100% convinced that climate change is happening in spite of all the reports that we have had from masses of governments.  Nearly 200 governments signed up to the Climate Change Report that came out this month.  I feel you are still a bit dubious about it.

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  No.  I have always said that I cannot possibly dissent from the best scientific advice.  I am not sufficiently versed in meteorology and climatology to dissent.  What I have also said is that even if the sceptics are right, it is a good thing for the city to reduce pollution, to reduce consumption and to reduce CO2 emissions because you save people loads of money, particularly people who are in fuel poverty, who cannot insulate their homes and so on.  There are great reasons for doing this, for all the RE:NEW and RE:FIT stuff that I have talked about, irrespective of the big arguments about climate change.  I have two reasons for wanting to see the programme succeed.  As I say, the reductions in CO2 outputs are pretty impressive for a city that has been growing economically at such a fantastic rate.

 

Jenny Jones AM:  I am sure you do understand how much of a signal it would be if you went to those climate talks.  You did not go to the last one in New York.

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I was at Copenhagen.

 

Jenny Jones AM:  Going to Paris next year will send out all sorts of signals.  Like it or not.

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  What is the most eco-friendly way I could go --

 

Darren Johnson AM:  It is not very far.  It is not very far on Eurostar, is it?  Come on.

 

Jenny Jones AM:  Like it or not, you are a personality.  You would be a heavyweight person there and ‑‑

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I cannot believe I am being bullied by the Assembly to go on a foreign junket.

 

Darren Johnson AM:  You just said they are effective and we are trying to be even more effective in making you go.

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Look, Jenny, quite seriously, I will be honest with you.  I have not focused on the Paris Summit yet and whether it is crucial to be there.  If I decide that it is, I will make sure I let you know.  I hope that you will go anyway.  Whatever happens, London will be very powerfully represented and we will make sure that we make a strong and positive contribution to the discussions.

 

Jenny Jones AM:  Do you understand that climate change is very dangerous and that if we do not do something to actually slow it down we are going to be facing some much higher temperatures in the next few years?  London is a global city.  It will hit us very hard.  Our Economy Committee is hearing from big business at the moment that they think the biggest risk to their business that they have to assess is climate change.  It will hit London very hard.

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Yes.  The Eurozone is a more immediate problem than climate change for business.  I do not in any way minimise the importance of tackling it.  As I say, I have to accept the overwhelming majority of scientists have this view.  As I say, even if the sceptics are right there will still be a good case for putting in lots of insulation and helping people save money and that is what we are doing.

 

Jenny Jones AM:  I agree with you completely and it is fantastic.  Thank you.

 

Roger Evans AM (Chairman):  The Greens are out of time.