Sadiq Khan: ‘The climate emergency remains one of the biggest threats we face’
Ahead of London Climate Action Week, Mayor urges businesses and politicians to ensure momentum is maintained in run up to delayed COP26 Summit
London Mayor Sadiq Khan is preparing to kick off the second annual London Climate Action Week from next week with a stark warning for business and political leaders to step up efforts to tackle the looming “climate emergency”.
The series of events that make up London Climate Action Week have switched to virtual platforms in response to the pandemic and Khan said he was “proud to see that it’s back in 2020, despite the huge challenges posed by Coronavirus”.
“The climate emergency remains one of the biggest threats we face,” he added. “As we recover from Covid-19, we can’t replace one health emergency with another – we need to come out of this crisis embracing a new normal which puts tackling the climate emergency at the heart of everything we do.”
He also stressed that there was an urgent need for businesses and policymakers to work together to further bolster the UK’s reputation for climate action ahead of the COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow, which has been delayed by a year until autumn 2021
“With the delay to COP 26 we can’t lose the momentum on climate action, so I’m pleased to see that London organisations are leading the way, showing once again that the capital is a driving force for action nationally and globally,” Khan said.
The comments come amidst growing fears that the UK may struggle to submit its updated climate action plan to the UN by the end of this year, as agreed under the Paris Agreement.
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) yesterday published a wide-ranging report on the UK’s decarbonisation efforts, which warned progress remained too slow on a number of fronts and urged Ministers to deliver a green recovery that can accelerate emissions reductions across the economy.
Next week’s series of virtual events are expected to both showcase some of London’s world-leading climate projects and provide forums for leading experts from across government, finance, business, and civil society to discuss how to accelerate the next phase of decarbonisation.
Specifically, the events are set to focus on how to mobilise green investment to rebuild economies; enhance international collaboration to address the climate crisis; and develop and deploy solutions that boost climate adaptation and resilience.
“The Covid-19 crisis and the shift of the COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow to 2021 threatens to take momentum out of global climate action at the very time when huge decisions are being made on economic recovery which will shape our future world,” said Nick Mabey, Chief Executive of think tank E3G. “Actions over the next 18 months will determine whether the world moves onto a path that will keep 1.5C within reach. London Climate Action Week is an opportunity for London’s cutting-edge climate organisations to re-energise the climate debate by working with colleagues worldwide to find innovative solutions.”
His comments were echoed by Fiona Reynolds, chief executive at the Principles for Responsible Investment, who argued that “with COP26 postponed due to Covid-19 London Climate Action Week is more important than ever”.
“We must keep momentum and focus on the transition to a net-zero world,” she added. “We really are in the race of our lives.”
Nigel Topping, High Level Climate Action Champion for COP26, said the hope was that the event would advance one of the top priorities for the climate summit – building support for, and momentum around, the net zero transition.
“What I’d like to see on climate action is for every business, every investor, every city, every country to commit to get to net zero carbon as soon as possible,” he said. “And for them to lay out the practical steps they’re going to take in the next five years to put them on track for that goal.”
The week is scheduled to include more than 60 events hosted by a raft of organisations, including the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC), the Grantham Research Institute at LSE, Chatham House, HSBC, climate charity Ashden, and think tank Carbon Tracker.