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Sadiq Khan meets Extinction Rebellion protesters and promises to consider citizens’ assembly on climate change

Mayor pledged to become ‘bolder champion of action', activist group says

Adam Forrest
Monday 29 April 2019 22:47 BST
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Sadiq Khan meeting Farhana Yamin and Sam Knights of Extinction Rebellion at City Hall
Sadiq Khan meeting Farhana Yamin and Sam Knights of Extinction Rebellion at City Hall (PA)

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan met members of the environmental campaign group Extinction Rebellion on Monday to discuss ways to tackle climate change.

Although Mr Khan has raised concerns about the pressure recent demonstrations have put on police resource in the capital, he said he shared the protesters’ “passion” and claimed his office was “doing what we can”.

He told the activists: “What we’ve tried to do is work with C40 [C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group] to pinch good ideas which other cities are doing well. I believe in stealing things well rather than inventing them badly.

“One of my frustrations is that we are the most centralised democracy in the western world, we’re doing what we can with the resources we’ve got and the powers we’ve got.”

A spokesperson for XR said the mayor also told them he will be “a bolder champion of action on climate change in London and internationally, and agreed to explore the idea of a citizens’ assembly”.

The meeting at City Hall featured Farhana Yamin, the international climate change lawyer and diplomat who helped negotiate the Paris Agreement in 2015, and Skeena Rathor, a Labour councillor who chained herself to her party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s fence earlier this month.

Campaigners who brought 10 days of disruption to London are also to meet Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell and environment secretary Michael Gove on Tuesday to discuss their concerns.

Members of XR will call on Mr Gove to back their demands to declare a climate emergency and commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2025.

Extinction Rebellion protesters perform 'die-in' at Natural History Museum

The group said that this week’s meeting was “Michael Gove’s opportunity to show he's ready to act on the climate and ecological emergency”.

Although the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) described the meeting as “private”, the campaigners said they would film it and make the footage public.

Monday’s City Hall summit came after the governments in both Wales and Scotland declared a “climate emergency”.

Labour is expected to urge Theresa May’s government to follow suit on Wednesday as part of a push to cut carbon emissions.

Mr Khan said he had declared a climate emergency in London last year. Prior to Monday’s meeting with activists, the mayor wrote: “I share the protesters’ passion about tackling climate change and I absolutely agree that we need to do much more as a country, and fast.”

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