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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Tory mayoral candidate Susan Hall suggested on Monday she would delay net zero in London by up to two decades, while promising to achieve carbon neutrality “as soon as possible”.

Ms Hall said Labour mayor Sadiq Khan’s pledge to achieve net zero emissions by 2030 was “virtue-signalling” and would “cost a fortune, which he doesn’t have”.

The Conservative candidate refused to commit herself to any deadline, with her newly-published manifesto only saying that she will “provide a realistic path to net zero carbon emissions as soon as possible”.

Asked whether she had dropped Mr Khan’s 2030 pledge, she said: “The mayor’s plan really was virtue-signalling, because he can’t do it without certain things going through Parliament.

“It would cost an absolute fortune which he doesn’t have. So it’s yet another case of him promising things that he can’t deliver.

“I’ll be looking to see if we can do it as quickly as possible. But we mustn’t do it at the expense of motorists, because that’s exactly what he’s doing.

“I mean, he talks about Ulez expansion cleaning up the air – his own impact assessment showed him it would make no difference whatsoever.

“So what you will get from me is things that are realistic, things that can be done without charging the poorest a tax, and looking to see how we can all contribute to it, without it absolutely making us all bankrupt, quite frankly.”

Asked whether she would at least try to achieve net zero in the capital before the Government’s UK-wide target of 2050, she said: “We’ll have to look at it and see what we can do.

“There are very many different things that you can do, and you can use different bodies and charities to help. But Sadiq Khan just virtue-signals, because he thinks it sounds good.”

Ms Hall told GB News last year that she supports the national 2050 target.

Her claim about the Ulez impact assessment is in relation to an independent report by the firm Jacobs, published about 15 months before the zone expanded to cover all of Greater London.

The report found that the “Proposed Scheme is modelled to result in a minor reduction (-1.3%) in the average exposure of the population of Greater London to NO2 and negligible reductions (-0.1%) in average exposure to PM2.5”.

City Hall responded to this point last year by saying it was important to understand the impact of the policy “in absolute terms”.

“For example, although NO2 concentration reductions are smaller in percentage terms than for the central London ULEZ, in absolute terms there is a much larger volume of NOx emissions saved equating to 362 tonnes. This is in comparison to the 240 tonnes saving we saw in central London,” the mayor’s spokesperson said.

The Tory candidate also refused to say when she would seek to get the capital’s bus fleet completely electrified. Mr Khan recently promised to bring forward the electrification of the fleet from 2034 to 2030.

Ms Hall said: “I don’t want to do anything similar to Sadiq Khan, because he’s been a total disaster quite frankly. We’ll get electric buses as soon as I can afford them, because I think they’re a good idea.”

Explaining why she would not put a deadline on her manifesto pledge to “accelerate the transition to electric buses”, she said that “people are sick to death of politicians promising the world” and that she would only make commitments that she is “100 per cent certain” she can “absolutely deliver”.

Her manifesto promises that she will “direct TfL to prioritise fully electric buses on routes where the air quality is worse”.

Labour have attacked Ms Hall for her social media activity in relation to global warming, including the fact that she in 2022 shared an article from the Daily Sceptic which dismissed the impact of man-made greenhouse gas emissions on climate change.

The Conservatives have rejected the suggestion that Ms Hall is a “climate change denier”, as they say she “believes in a fair and practical transition to net zero”.

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