With the crucial Cop26 summit in Glasgow taking place in November, we are in a vital year of the decisive decade for the climate emergency. And deciding next month who runs England’s capital city will also be a defining question in whether we can win the fight against the accelerating climate crisis.
For the sake of the climate agenda alone, we need Sadiq Khan to be re-elected for a second term. Sadiq has been a true climate leader as mayor right from day one. He’s pushed ahead with the boldest and most ambitious plans of any major city in the world to tackle air pollution, which have already helped cut toxic air by nearly half in central London. He’s delivered a fivefold increase in protected cycle lanes. He’s launched the first stage of his green new deal for London with £10m invested in projects to secure more than 1,000 green jobs, targeted at those who need them the most. And he was the first mayor of any comparable city in the world to commit to becoming zero-carbon by 2030.
When you look at his manifesto, this is clearly just the start of his ambitions. He has announced that he will launch a green skills academy to support jobs that are diverse, sustainable, meaningful and well-paid. He will expand the ultra-low emission zone to help save more lives from air pollution. He will support plans to double the size of London’s green economy by 2030. And he is committed to expanding his green new deal for London, which will help to support more than 175,000 green jobs.
Sadiq is not just ambitious on the climate agenda. He is the mayoral candidate who best understands that a strong economic recovery and a green recovery are not mutually exclusive, but one and the same. A green recovery will not only enable us to protect our environment, but create the jobs and prosperity we need. To achieve this, Sadiq has rightly put green jobs and delivering a green recovery for London at the top of his agenda.
I have been a big supporter of the global green new deal movement for many years, because it has the potential to help us combat the climate emergency while simultaneously boosting our economy and tackling inequality. This is an approach that’s needed now more than ever, starting with Labour’s call for a £30bn green economic recovery to create hundreds of thousands of jobs. It can help us make the green investments that can create high-quality, well-paid jobs in new and growing industries. It can unleash the inclusive and sustainable growth that’s required to enable us to recover from the pandemic. And it can help us fix the flaws in our increasingly unequal society, which have been exposed over the past year.
Sadiq recognises that the struggles for social justice and climate justice cannot be separated but go hand-in-hand, and that by rising to meet the climate crisis we can at the same time create the fairer, more equal, more just capital city we need. If re-elected, he will also be the mayor who stands up for Londoners by pushing for the government to help deliver the climate justice our country needs. This means fighting for the funds to retrofit millions of homes to tackle fuel poverty and fighting for the powers in London to mandate minimum energy efficiency standards in homes.
Such action is essential for London. So after five years of climate leadership from Sadiq and plans in place for another term of bold green policies, why would we throw all that away by electing the Tory candidate for mayor? Shaun Bailey has dismissed the green new deal for London, opposed the expansion of the ultra-low emission zone, and has said he would scrap the popular low-traffic neighbourhoods.
There is no bigger issue we face as we seek to recover from the pandemic than the climate emergency. That’s why I’ve said in recent weeks that the next general election must be seen as a climate election – because the stakes are so high.
The same is true for the elections in London next month, and the choice in this two-horse race is simple: Sadiq, the climate leader with the green new deal for London and a plan to support more than 175,000 green jobs, or the Tory candidate who would fail to deliver the greener, fairer economy that the people of London need and deserve.