The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, will today warn world leaders at the United Nations Climate Ambition Summit that humanity is inflicting ‘self-harm on a planetary scale’.
Sadiq is the only UK leader invited to speak at the summit in New York, held alongside this year’s meeting of the UN General Assembly, by UN Secretary General, António Guterres. It is the first time a UK Mayor has been invited to participate in such an event, recognising London’s place as a driving force in accelerating and delivering climate action.
The prestigious summit, primarily attended by national leaders, aims to speed up action by governments, business, finance, local authorities and civil society, and hears from “first movers and doers” in tackling the climate emergency.
Sadiq is speaking at the opening plenary in his capacity as both Mayor of London and Chair of C40 Cities – a global network of nearly 100 mayors of the world’s leading cities. His remarks will focus on the power of cities to tackle the climate crisis and accelerate the green transition.
Sadiq will set out examples of how cities around the world are coming together to meet the Secretary General’s call to ‘turn a year of burning heat into a year of burning ambition’.
He is expected to say, “Only last month, London implemented the world’s largest clean air zone. Pushing this through wasn’t easy. But the time for action is now.
“Which is why we’re also investing in green jobs, transport and energy. Charting a course for London to be net-zero – not by 2050, but by the end of this decade.
“Our city is by no means alone. The same story is being replicated across the globe. From Rio to Seoul and from Dhaka to Freetown. It’s cities leading the charge.
“The situation that confronts us today is grave. It’s nothing short of self-harm on a planetary scale. We’re facing an onslaught of floods, droughts and wildfires. Homes are being destroyed, ecosystems vandalised and children forced to breathe toxic air. And it’s the poorest bearing the brunt.
“It’s easy to get angry at the dither and delay from some quarters. But our cities offer grounds for hope. Because we’re the ones willing to make the tough calls.”
The Mayor will also issue this warning to oil and gas companies, “Today, urban areas consume 75% of global primary energy – meaning we possess enormous power to accelerate the shift to net-zero. It’s why cities can be climate titans: Using our might and muscle to make a decisive difference in this decisive decade.
“Just this week C40 pledged to cut fossil fuel consumption by half in the next seven years. Because our reliance on fossil fuels is at the root of the problem.
“And so I say to the fossil fuel companies: if you don’t change – and fully commit to the green transition – you risk being consigned to the past.
“The choice you face is simple: get on board, or get left behind as we race to a greener age.”
Sadiq has made tackling the twin threats of the climate crisis and toxic air pollution a key priority throughout his mayoralty. He is rolling out some of the most ambitious policies of any city in the world to reduce air pollution and help tackle the climate emergency.
London was the first global city to declare a climate emergency, producing a 1.5°C aligned climate action plan and bringing forward London’s net-zero target from 2050 to 2030, faster than any comparable city. Last month Sadiq expanded the Ultra Low Emission Zone, bringing cleaner air to five million more Londoners and creating the largest clean air zone anywhere in the world. London has the largest number of electric buses and rapid charging points of any European city and almost half a million trees have been planted with a five fold increase in cycleways since Sadiq became mayor.
Invites to the UN Climate Ambition Summit were only extended to those who are taking positive action to deliver on the climate goals established in the COP21 Paris Agreement, including limiting the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels. The Mayor is expected to reaffirm this commitment, saying:
“To all those working to secure the fate of our civilisation, know the cities of the world are with you.
“We’ll do everything we can to keep the promise of 1.5 alive. And we’ll continue to call on nations to give us more powers and resources to win this fight.
“We’ll continue to be the climate doers, not the delayers of our time. And continue to champion the cause of climate justice – from the Global North to the Global South – so that we can deliver a safer, fairer and brighter future for all humankind.”
Under Sadiq’s leadership of C40, two thirds of the organisation’s budget is now dedicated to accelerating climate action in the global south. The Mayor has also launched Breathe Cities, through a US$ 30 million clean air partnership between Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Clean Air Fund, and C40 Cities. 50 per cent of all C40 cities are now committed to delivering the Clean Air Accelerator, meaning approximately 227 million people across 49 cities will benefit from cleaner air and improved health. C40 Cities, led by Sadiq, have also united to spearhead the creation of 50 million good, green jobs by the end of the decade.