Protest takes London Mayor to task on climate promises

Mayor’s Question Time was occupied by protesters this morning, who confronted Sadiq Khan for skipping out on election pledges to found a fuel energy utility for London and divest the city pension fund from fossil fuels.

Around 50 people from groups including the Greater London Pensioners’ Association, Fuel Poverty Action and Switched On interrupted the usually sedate proceedings to call on the mayor to “keep his climate promises,” causing chaos in the room and prompting an aggressive response from lawmakers.

IT consultant and Conservative Assembly Member Andrew Boff, a four-decade veteran of London metropolitan politics, caused some bafflement when he started shouting that the protesters were “middle-class bullies” shortly before they were bodily ejected from the room by paid security guards.

The protesters also threw dozens of paper planes with messages to Khan, who after a year in office has largely shelved his much-vaunted idea to start a London-owned clean energy company to fight climate change, help de-pollute London and cut residents’ bills by up to £159 a year.

Last week City Hall also admitted it still invests almost £70 million in fossil fuel companies through the London Pension Fund Authority despite Khan publicly stating he would divest the pension fund during his election campaign.

Switched on London campaigner Emma Hughes said:

Sadiq Khan was elected Mayor on the back of two big environmental promises: to set up a public energy company that gives Londoners clean, affordable fuel and to divest the London Pension Fund from fossil fuels. Over a year in office and he’s broken both. Today we’re taking back city hall to tell the Mayor to keep his climate promises.

Divest London campaigner Phil MacDonald said:

“As we gather at City Hall, so people from across the globe have traveled to the climate talks in Bonn to demand an end to the fossil fuel era and the devastating climate impacts it’s created. London is a carbon capital, it is at the forefront financing oil and gas extraction. We are demanding the Mayor take action to turn London into the climate leader we know it can be.”

Fuel Poverty Action organiser Dan Goss said:

“We all know how high London’s energy bills are. The Big Six’s astronomical profits mean that over one million Londoners’ can’t afford to keep warm in their own homes. If Sadiq Khan is serious about tackling fuel poverty it’s time he took money out of oil and gas and put it into a clean public energy company that brings down bills”

UK Tar Sands Network campaigner Suzanne Dhaliwal added:

“The flow of capital from London to fossil fuel corporations is a continuation of a colonial legacy that devastates the land and culture of communities of colour for profit. In order to be a leader in the Just Transition, Sadiq Khan must immediately end the tie between our pension funds and the expansion of the Canadian tar sands, which is devastating the global climate and undermining the rights of the indigenous peoples.”

This intervention took place on the penultimate day of the Mayor’s environmental strategy consultation and coincides with the UN Climate Negotiations in Bonn, Germany where government representatives are discussing their commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement.


Pics: Switched On