Boris Johnson has been elected the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and is promising a New Deal for Britain. In his victory speech, he said that his goal was to make sure the people who are left behind by globalisation are given more opportunities. London Mayor Sadiq Khan called on him to tackle climate change in a way that’s inclusive.
But the former Mayor of London has a questionable record when it comes to climate change. He’s suggested that hulking great concrete barriers could keep rising sea levels at bay, dismissed an article warning about overpopulation as green nonsense, and once said he was not convinced by scientists’ warnings on climate change. And he’s also been accused of prioritising the economic growth of London over wildlife conservation.
When he was London Mayor, he introduced a charge on single use carrier bags, and said that air pollution was an important issue for the capital but stopped short of introducing a congestion charge or workplace parking levy. He also vetoed plans to pedestrianise Oxford Street and expand the congestion charge zone.
He has also been accused of sidelining plans to introduce clean power stations at London’s biggest energy hubs, in favour of expanding the city’s gas supplies instead. During his tenure as Mayor, Johnson greenlighted plans for a £1.5 billion expansion of the Silvertown Quays industrial estate, which critics said would add to the city’s already bad air quality.
As Foreign Secretary, Johnson once said that if New Zealand put in a big enough offer, he’d like to swap his Thames-side official residence for one of theirs on their beautiful South Pacific island and then turn it into an international rubbish dump .
When he stood for the Conservative Party leadership in 2016, Johnson promised to honour the UK’s climate commitments. But last year, when asked if he would still be going ahead with those pledges made by his predecessor, Prime Minister Theresa May , under a no-deal Brexit scenario where there would be no legal obligation to it, he said: “Yes. I am a man of my word.
Greenpeace UK’s executive director John Sauven said The next prime minister has big decisions to make on protecting our country from the impacts of climate change, from floods and droughts to rising sea levels. There is no time for delay as the window of opportunity to avert disaster closes every day. He must act immediately to freeze building of new petrol and diesel cars, ban fracking, increase support for renewables on land and at sea, protect nature from pesticides and restore our soils with the help of farmers.
The New Party’s CEO Niall Bradley said: Boris Johnson has a lot to prove in terms of being ‘green. Whilst London’s air pollution under his stewardship was reduced to the point where it now meets EU legal limits, he didn’t just ignore individual applications for fracking in the capital but pushed through the largest urban industrial estate expansion at Silvertown without considering its potentially catastrophic effects on local residents.4
Previously, Johnson said that hulking great concrete barriers could keep rising sea levels at bay. It is unclear if he still holds the same views now that he’s been elected as Prime Minister.
In a 2016 article in The Telegraph, Johnson wrote: I’m not yet convinced by those apocalyptic predictions that the seas will rise by more than about half a metre this century, but I can see that the consequences might be very grave indeed if a serious effort is not made to counteract what President [Donald] Trump rightly calls global warming. 6
In 2011, when he was London Mayor, Johnson dismissed an article warning about overpopulation as green nonsense. The article by journalist Matt Ridley pointed out that the number of people on Earth is not a poison” and that “nearly all of our environmental problems are easier to solve than they were made out out to be.