London Mayor calls for Green New Deal for the UK
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has urged the UK Government to implement a US-style Green New Deal - a move he claims will help move climate-related policy discussions past talk and towards action.
Khan made his call to action at an event held to mark the start of London’s first Climate Action Week, during which he warned that the threat of climate change “delayers” is on the rise as climate “deniers” increasingly change their viewpoints or become less vocal.
In his speech, he urged Ministers to set more ambitious and specific policies around the UK’s newly legislated net-zero goal for 2050, arguing that a failure to do so could bring about a case of “warm words but no action to back them up”. Khan has specifically recommended that the 2040 ban on new petrol and diesel car sales is brought forward to 2030; that community solar schemes are better supported by policy; that London receives devolved powers for low-carbon building standards and that Government puts forward a Green New Deal.
The Green New Deal movement has been around for over a decade but has recently hit mainstream media following Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s intentions to create a US iteration of the deal. It focuses on a new approach to economic prosperity that guarantees decent work, ownership and democracy across sectors, by placing society and the planet at the heart of all key policies and growth opportunities.
In the UK, a Green New Deal was first put forward by the Green Party in March, calling for a 50% cut in emissions within a decade. Since then, a cross-party Environmental Justice Commission has been created with the aim of ushering in the Deal.
Khan used his speech to put pressure on Boris Johnson, former London Mayor and frontrunner in the Conservative Party leadership contest, to bring in the Green New Deal if he is chosen. He specifically highlighted the fact that Johnson has repeatedly suggested that the sun might have just as much to do with the Earth’s changing climate as human activity.
“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,” Khan said.
“But today, the biggest obstacle to meaningfully reducing our carbon emissions… 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.”
Khan joins the likes of Ed Milliband and Laura Sandys in publicly lobbying for a Green New Deal for the UK. Outside of the political space, such a move has received support from think tank E3G, protest group Extinction Rebellion and the UK100 – a network of 93 local authorities from all UK regions.