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‘London is at a crossroads’: Sadiq Khan calls for climate action as millions face soaring heat and floods

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The climate crisis is one of the biggest challenges facing London with millions already at risk from soaring temperatures and worsening floods, Sadiq Khan will say today.

In a major address ahead of Cop26, the pivotal summit taking place in Glasgow, the London mayor will warn that “time is running out” to get the world on track for meeting the Paris Agreement goals and urge the government to show climate leadership.

Nearly half of London’s hospitals, one in five schools and a quarter of the city’s rail stations are already at risk of flooding, according to City Hall analysis.

And, if temperatures continue to rise at current rates, the London Underground could become unbearably hot for more than a month every year.

Speaking at the Barbican Centre on Thursday morning, the mayor will launch a city-wide campaign to inspire all Londoners to “take action”.

“London is at a crossroads,” he is expected to say.

“We either take bold action now or face the consequences – with catastrophic impacts on our environment, the air we breathe and the climate.

“But I can’t do it all alone. That’s why today I’m launching my city-wide campaign to inspire all Londoners – individuals, businesses and communities – to take action.”

Climate crisis could make London Underground ‘unbearably hot’, mayor says (PA)
Climate crisis could make London Underground ‘unbearably hot’, mayor says (PA)

New data from City Hall shows that several London boroughs, including Hackney, Hammersmith and Fulham, Islington, Brent, Tower Hamlets and Newham, face a particularly high risk of both flooding and overheating.

The mayor will call for the UK government to devolve powers and long-term funds to help London deal with rising climate risks.

“I want to work with the government to unlock the powers and funding needed to meet our targets, which will help deliver national targets too,” Mr Khan is expected to say.

He will also set out tougher actions to tackle deadly levels of air pollution in the capital.

All school children in London currently breathe air with unsafe levels of pollution, when compared to the latest air quality guidelines announced by the World Health Organization (WHO).

“I’m determined for London to be a world leader in tackling the twin dangers of air pollution and the climate emergency so that we can deliver a brighter future for London – one that’s greener, fairer and more prosperous for everyone,” the mayor will say.

“That’s why I’ve committed to making London a zero-carbon city by 2030... I also want London to be a zero-pollution city so that no child has to grow up in our city breathing toxic air.”

His speech comes as leaders are gathered in New York for a UN general assembly where the climate crisis is at the top of the agenda.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping made headlines on Tuesday when he announced that the country will no longer build coal power plants overseas.

President Joe Biden also announced a major pledge to double the amount the US spends on helping developing world countries tackle and adapt to rising emissions.

UN chief Antonio Guterres welcomed both pledges, but warned the world was still “light years away” from being on track to meeting its climate targets ahead of Cop26.

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