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The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. (Photo: Dominic Lipinski - PA Images via Getty Images)
The mayor of London said the country needed a “brave generation of politicians” in parliament, in an interview with HuffPost UK.
“This heatwave is directly linked with the consequences of climate change,” Khan said as the UK hit its hottest temperature on record of 40.2C at Heathrow.
“So rather than tiptoeing around this issue and ignoring it, as those running to be the Tory leader have done, we should be talking about it more with a sense of urgency.”
The criticism falls as the Tory leadership debate has focused on tax cuts and culture war issues, rather than the climate.
Cabinet minister Alok Sharma, who led last year’s landmark Cop26 UN climate summit, intervened in the Tory leadership race, suggesting to The Observer he might resign if the incoming PM fails to commit to a strong agenda on the climate crisis.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan with Rosamund adoo-kissi-debrah, CEO of the Ella Roberta Family Foundation. (Photo: James Manning - PA Images via Getty Images)
Meanwhile, Conservative MP Chris Skidmore has suggested Tory party members care little about hitting “net zero” carbon emissions by 2050 “because 90 per cent of them will be dead”.
Skidmore admitted a survey which put the climate emergency at the bottom of the list for the people who will choose the next prime minister is “rather depressing” in the Independent.
Leadership candidate Kemi Badenoch has previously branded the 2050 net zero commitment “unilateral economic disarmament” and vowed to axe it if elected.
At a hustings event on Monday she appeared to reverse her view before performing another U-turn on TalkTV that evening suggesting there were “circumstances” she would delay it. The three other remaining leadership candidates have all backed net zero.
EXCLUSIVE: Kemi Badenoch says she would be prepared to delay the UK’s target to hit net zero carbon emissions by 2050, as the UK experiences one of the hottest days on record.@tnewtondunn | @KemiBadenochpic.twitter.com/9cl8QY0Kkh
— The News Desk (@TheNewsDesk) July 18, 2022
Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, whose daughter Ella was nine years old when she suffered a fatal asthma attack in 2013 linked to severe air pollution, has also criticised Conservative leadership hopefuls for dismissing green issues.
Khan added: “I break down politicians into three areas: climate change deniers, climate change delayers and climate change doers.
“And this heatwave should make us all want to be climate change doers, rather than delayers or deniers.”
He added: “This heatwave, caused by climate change, should be a wake up call for all of us - including those running to be the leader of the Conservative Party.
“It’s heartbreaking, in my view, to see the Tories being in denial about this issue.
“I mean, just to think about one of the candidates talking about 2060, 2070, the other candidates being lukewarm at best about the issue of tackling climate change. That is not the sort of leadership we need.”
He added: “It was Conservative politicians in the 1950s during the Great Smog who made the brave decision to close down power stations in the centre of our cities - think of Battersea Power station, think of the Tate Modern, because then you could see the poison.
“The problem is you can’t see the invisible killer, but you can feel the heat.
“What we want to see is a brave generation of politicians in parliament now, tackling climate change and air quality.”
The mayor made the comments as he hosted a climate solutions summit in London’s City Hall.
A woman use portable fan as heatwave hits London, United Kingdom on July 18, 2022. (Photo: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Transport for London released figures that show the expansion of Khan’s ultra-low emission zone appears to have reduced toxic air levels in the suburbs.
They found that roadside levels of nitrogen dioxide in central London were now 44 per cent lower than they would have been had the Ulez not been introduced.
However, the Evening Standard suggested the bulk of the benefits were attributable to the original central London zone which launched in April 2019.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.