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The climate emergency is one of the biggest threats we face today. The Covid-19 pandemic has been a true crisis in every sense of the word, but it may pale in comparison to the impact of the climate breakdown, which could be even more damaging and disruptive to our way of life. In London, we are committed to making the capital a zero-carbon city by 2030, faster than any comparable city, and we have developed a climate action plan that is compatible with the highest ambitions of the Paris Agreement.
As part of our world-leading efforts, we are making transport cleaner, greener and more sustainable. We are investing in electric and hydrogen-powered buses – moving us closer to our ambition of making all London buses zero-emission by 2030. We are expanding the world’s-first Ultra Low Emission Zone. We are continuing to invest in our network of electric vehicle charging points, which is already the largest in the UK. And we are working to make London’s biggest single energy user, the London Underground, powered by green energy.
There is no doubt that we have made incredible progress over the last five years in London, but I’m determined to keep up the pace and to go much further. That’s why, as we rebuild following the pandemic, we are putting tackling the climate emergency at the heart of our recovery efforts.
We are putting tackling the climate emergency at the heart of our recovery efforts
The climate sceptics and deniers say that now is not the time to focus on climate change or air pollution given the immediate challenges we face with Covid-19. But they’re wrong, because climate action will drive our economic recovery and job creation efforts, rather than damage them. A strong economic recovery and a green recovery go hand in hand.
A green recovery will not only enable us to protect our environment, but create the jobs and prosperity we need. That is why we are putting high-quality, well-paid jobs in new and growing green industries, like solar energy, at the top of our agenda. We are already investing £10m in projects to boost green jobs and support green industries, and we have a plan to double the size of the green economy over the next decade.
One important way we are reducing carbon emissions, at the same time as driving growth in our green economy, is by retrofitting buildings. We know that heating and powering buildings is the biggest source of carbon emissions in London, and retrofitting them will be vital to meeting our net-zero ambitions. It will also help us tackle fuel poverty, which is a major problem in parts of London. Overall, London has the third highest level of fuel poverty in the country, with Barking and Dagenham having the highest of any local authority in England.
So we are planning nothing short of a retrofit revolution with a package of measures to create ultra-low carbon buildings across the capital. My energy efficiency programmes have already helped secure more than £160m in funding and we have also secured a new innovation partnership deal that matches social housing providers with innovative building companies, which will deliver large scale, low-carbon upgrades to London’s social housing. If matched across the country, this partnership has the potential to be worth up to £10bn.
In the year of COP26, we have no choice but to keep up the momentum on climate action. In London, I will continue to lead by example, doing everything I can to rebuild our capital city after the pandemic as a greener, fairer and more prosperous place for everyone.
Sadiq Khan is Mayor of London
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