At the 16th November Mayor’s Question Time at City Hall, protesters turned up to complain that Sadiq Khan had “broken promises” on clean energy.
Not content with demonstrating outside the building, a large group, complete with a banner, came inside and started shouting during Mayor’s Question Time. Proceedings were held up while they were removed from the Chamber.
So what was it all about – and are the protesters correct that the Mayor has broken his promises?
Alleged “broken promise” No.1 – a fully-licensed energy company.
In his March 2016 Manifesto, Sadiq promised to set up a Not for Profit Energy Company. Since then, he has produced not only his draft Environment Strategy, but also (for the first time ever) a Fuel Poverty Action Plan.
The environment team at City Hall have looked long and hard at all the options for a Not for Profit energy company – and have realised that to get a company fully licensed will take a long time.
A lot of people in London are paying huge amounts for their gas and electricity bills, often living in leaky buildings their landlords won’t improve. The Mayor is determined to take on this problem sooner rather than later – so in the short-term, his Not for Profit company will not be fully licensed.
But this is not a broken promise as his Manifesto never said it would be fully licensed.
Alleged “broken promise” No.2 – failure to divest the pension fund from fossil fuels.
The March 2016 Manifesto did promise divestment from fossil fuels. Since May 2016, when Sadiq was elected, the amount invested in fossil fuels has dropped from 2.2% to 1.3%. The Manifesto never promised that full divestment would take place by November 2017. So progress is being made and again, no promise has been broken.
What is really depressing is that for the first time since 2008 we have a Mayor in City Hall working on environment and energy pledges, divesting from fossil fuels, wanting to set up a Not for Profit Energy Company – but misguided protesters, instead of attacking others who are promoting fracking, banning onshore wind and failing to invest in renewables, have come to shout at the Mayor.
Many other pension schemes have far more than 1.1% invested in fossil fuels, so why protest at the Mayor of London?
I hope the people of London can see that the Mayor has been and is working hard on these issues and don’t listen to those who tried to hijack the democratic accountability of Mayor’s Question Time.