The fate of our planet is hanging in the balance – it’s in all of our interests to act now

The 100 day countdown to Glasgow’s Cop26 summit has begun, it’s time for the UK to exercise real influence on the world stage and secure landmark global climate agreements

Sadiq Khan@SadiqKhan
Thursday 22 July 2021 00:01
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<p>‘The UK has to lead on the climate crisis – the time for excuses and inaction is over’</p>

‘The UK has to lead on the climate crisis – the time for excuses and inaction is over’

With just 100 days to go until the UK hosts Cop26 – an event that will be pivotal in determining our generation’s response to the climate emergency – it’s vital that we’re all raising our voices and making the case for ambitious climate action.

From politicians to the public, from businesses to civic society, we all have a part to play in building momentum and pressure behind the bold policies that we need world leaders to commit to – not only to tackle the climate crisis, but to deliver the fair and just recovery from this terrible pandemic that our citizens and communities deserve.

Cop26 is a huge moment for the UK to exercise real influence on the world stage and to use its soft power and diplomatic clout to secure a landmark global agreement. But more importantly, the fate of our environment, our planet and our shared future truly is hanging in the balance and it’s in all of our interests to act now – and to act decisively – to avert a catastrophic climate crisis. The reality is, we have no option but to put ourselves at the forefront of the global movement for climate action and climate justice. The time for excuses and inaction is over, the time for urgency and leadership is now.

In London, we know what’s at stake and we’re determined to set an example when it comes to meeting this historic challenge. We’ve already declared a climate emergency, committed to making London zero-carbon by 2030 and developed a climate action plan that is compatible with the highest ambitions of the Paris Agreement.

We’re also taking action to divest London’s pension funds from fossil fuel companies, to expand our network of electric vehicle charging points, and to make our transport system cleaner and greener through the purchase of new electric and hydrogen-powered buses. All of this builds on huge strides we’ve already made over the last five years, including the introduction of the world-leading Ultra Low Emission Zone and the fivefold increase in protected cycling lanes that I’m proud to say my administration has delivered.

However, we know that we need to keep up the pace and go much further, much faster. That’s why, as we rebuild following the pandemic, we’re putting tackling the climate emergency at the heart of our recovery efforts. We need to be clear that a strong economic recovery and a green recovery are not mutually exclusive, but one and the same. Indeed, a green recovery will not only enable us to protect our environment, but to create the jobs and prosperity that we need to get our city back up on its feet and to address some of the worst inequalities and injustices that have been exposed by this pandemic.

That’s why there is such a heavy focus in my Green New Deal for London on creating secure, high-quality and well-paid jobs in new and growing green industries, like our renewable energy sector. We’re already investing £10 million in projects to boost green jobs and to support green industries and we have a plan in place to support more than 175,000 green jobs in the capital and double the size of our green economy.

Climate action is a matter of social justice because it’s the poorest communities that are being hit hardest by air pollution in London and by climate change around the world. In recognition of this, we’ve developed vulnerability mapping in London that allows us to target our green projects in the areas and communities that are the most climate-vulnerable and economically deprived. Likewise, to ensure that our transition to a low carbon economy brings all of London’s communities with us and leaves no one behind, we’ve commissioned work that will set out what a just transition for London looks like.

For the sake of both our future prosperity and our environment, I know that we must continue to push ahead with these world-leading green initiatives. In this year of Cop26 and at the start of our decade of action, London is committed to spearheading the transformational change that’s necessary and to making sure that it works for all of our communities – delivering a better and brighter future for London, and a fairer, healthier, stronger economy for everyone who calls our city home.

Sadiq Khan is the mayor of London

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