Boris Johnson settled an old rivalry today (March 16) as he thanked the woman who has pushed forward his policies on climate change.
The Mayor of London, who spoke at the Greater London Authority (GLA) for his final Mayor’s Question Time, said that Jenny Jones, London Assembly member for the Green Party, had been a significant driving force in London’s action on climate change.
But their exchanges have not always been so amicable.
Cllr Jones has repeatedly argued that climate change has slipped from the Tories’ agenda, and this has resulted in some sharp words between the two at previous GLA meetings.
Last July, she was publicly critical of Mr Johnson’s failure to attend a two-day climate change meeting organised by Pope Francis.
But today, Mr Johnson thanked Cllr Jones for the effort she’s put into lowering London’s carbon footprint.
He said: “You’re right, and you’ve been right over many years. You’ve been hounding me on this issue. In your nice way, you have hounded me. I think very often, actually, the kicking I get round this horseshoe does make a difference to the policies that we make and the energy we put into things.
“On climate change, you have been the leader, and I think London has done very well.”
His comment came after Cllr Jones criticised his failure to meet his own climate change targets. She gave the example of his target for 1,700,000 cavity wall insulations, which he missed by 1,620,000.
She said: “That’s pretty dismal.”
But Mr Johnson was adamant that, since the term began, carbon dioxide emissions were down 14 per cent, while London’s economy was up 50 per cent. He also claimed that nitrogen oxides (NOx) had fallen by 25 per cent, and particulate matter (PM) 2.5 by 27 per cent.
In 2008, he set a target to reduce the city’s CO2 emissions by 60 per cent by 2025 by providing cleaner public transport, retrofitting boilers, providing cavity wall insulation and introducing an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), but Cllr Jones said there had been a lack of action on climate change.
Taking a more emphatic approach, she said that Mr Johnson’s targets had been “totally, fatally undermined” by the government’s withdrawal of schemes such as Green Deal – to which the Mayor gave a mumbled reply.
She went on to contrast him with other leaders, including ex-Governer Arnold Schwarzneggar and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who she said have been world leaders in combatting climate change.
She said: “You’ve actually pushed climate-sceptic views. You have not put energy into fighting.”
But Mr Johnson laughed off the accusation. He said: “Just because we don’t go around swanking doesn’t mean that we haven’t done better than other big cities. We’ve done great. Just because I don’t swan off around the world on climate change junkies, just because I don’t rack up air miles spewing vapour into the ether, bragging about everything we’re doing, doesn’t mean that we aren’t achieving a huge amount.”
“We have CO2 output per capita at half of that of the rest of the country. And we’ve increased GDP by 20 per cent. Those are astonishing figures. It shows that we’ve been able to generate fantastic economic growth and cut CO2 emissions.”