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Tory candidate for London mayor has Trumpian attitude to climate, says Khan

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Sadiq Khan will accuse his Conservative rival in the race to be London’s next mayor of being “Trumpian” over the climate crisis, as he announces plans for solar panels on schools.

Khan is expected to acknowledge resistance to his expansion of the ultra-low emission zone (Ulez) in a speech on Friday but insist that he still intends to “go further”.

A fund will be established for putting solar panels on school roofs and Khan said he will meet a commitment to make London net zero by 2030.

He will contrast his plans to that of the Conservative candidate Susan Hall, a London assembly member, who has called for the UK government to delay its 2050 net zero target.

“London is at a crucial crossroads moment,” Khan is expected to say. “Susan Hall is a proud anti-green candidate who takes a Trumpian approach to the climate crisis.

“She has opposed all the green policies we’ve introduced since 2016, backed the reintroduction of fracking and promoted climate science denial online. So I want to make a plea to all Londoners who care about tackling air pollution and our precious environment to take this election seriously.

“You only have to look at what the Tories have done filling our waterways with sewage to see what they would do to air quality in the capital.”

In a nod to the heavy criticism, including that of his own party leader, Keir Starmer, over his expansion of the £12.50 charge to cover polluting vehicles anywhere in Greater London, Khan will note the “resistance and pressure from many quarters”.

But he will insist “it was the right thing to do and has proven to be very effective” with roadside nitrogen dioxide pollution cut in half across the city.

“I’m determined to go even further with a new 10-point climate action plan for our city, which includes exciting new initiatives like putting solar panels on school roofs across our city”, Khan will say.

Khan is expected to say Susan Hall is a ‘proud anti-green candidate’ Photograph: James Veysey/Shutterstock

In response Hall’s campaign team claimed that Khan, who is seeking an historic third term as mayor, was planning a “pay-per-mile” scheme for drivers in London, something he has denied.

A Hall spokesperson said: “Susan believes in a fair and practical transition to net zero, while Sadiq Khan believes in hitting motorists in the pocket with Ulez and pay-per-mile taxes. Susan will scrap Sadiq Khan’s Ulez expansion and pay-per-mile plans on her first day as mayor.”

When questioned about pay-per-mile scheme last September, Khan told the London assembly: “I want to be crystal clear. A pay-per-mile scheme is not on the table and not on my agenda.”

Khan will appear alongside the shadow energy secretary, Ed Miliband, at a school in north London to announce an initial investment of £2m for solar panels to be installed at 50 schools across the capital. There are more than 2,700 state schools in the capital.

He will also pledge that London’s bus fleet will “zero-emission” by 2030 while delivering 40,000 new public bike parking spaces and 23,000 more electric vehicle charging points across London.

Last July, Hall shared a Daily Express article by David Frost, the former Brexit negotiator who has been a rallying figure for rightwing Conservatives, in which he argued that the UK should “drop [its] urgent dash to net zero”. Hall tweeted: “This man is full of common sense – net zero needs to be delayed and shale gas sought. Well said [David Frost]”.

She also shared an article in 2020 by the website Spiked Online that expressed doubt about the extent of the climate breakdown.

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