DeSmog

Tory London Mayor Candidate Backed Fracking and Promoted Climate Science Denial

Susan Hall’s views on climate change are “extremely concerning”, critics say.
Adam Barnett - new white crop
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Credit: PA Images / Alamy

Susan Hall, the Conservative Party candidate for London mayor, has opposed key climate policies, backed the reintroduction of fracking and promoted articles online which spread climate science denial, DeSmog can reveal.

She has been accused of trying to “undermine” climate science when the impact of human-caused climate change is making headlines amid a summer heatwave in Europe.

Hall, who is a London Assembly member and was selected as the Conservatives’ London mayoral candidate last week, has vowed to reverse the expansion of the capital’s ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) on her “first day” in office and cancel all fines issued in the expanded zone. 

The Conservative Party has made opposing the ULEZ expansion a central part of its electoral strategy, deploying it in last week’s successful attempt to retain its Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat in west London. 

In a series of posts on Twitter, Hall has called for the UK’s emissions-cutting net zero targets to be “delayed” and for the lifting of the ban on fracking for shale gas. She has also promoted articles and comments that reject the role of human-made greenhouse gas emissions on climate change. 

The world’s leading body of climate scientists, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has warned about false and misleading information that “undermines climate science and disregards risk and urgency” at a time when there is “a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all”. 

The Conservative government also faces a fresh lawsuit over its climate strategy, after its revised plan – published in March – admitted that it would fall short of meeting its emissions goals. 

Zoë Garbett, the Green Party’s candidate for Mayor of London told DeSmog: “It’s extremely concerning that the Conservatives have selected a mayoral candidate who is not only actively campaigning against cleaner air for Londoners but is also willing to try and undermine the climate science which clearly shows the impact humans have had.”

Garbett added that it was a sign of “sheer desperation” from the Conservative Party, which she claimed would rather “pick culture fights than help to deliver the measures that would really make a difference for the millions of people living here”.

A spokesperson for Hall told DeSmog that she supports net zero and the scientific consensus on human-caused climate change – backtracking on Hall’s previous online statements. 

‘The Green Agenda is Causing Havoc’

Susan Hall has called for the UK’s net zero targets to be “delayed” and has supported new fossil fuel extraction through the overturning of the UK’s ban on fracking for shale gas. 

Fracking was banned in the UK in 2019 over concerns that it causes earth tremors. However, its reintroduction was the key demand of opponents of climate action as global gas prices spiked amid Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine. Prime Minister Liz Truss tried to lift the ban, but this was reversed by her successor Rishi Sunak. 

Last July, Hall shared a Daily Express article by Lord Frost, which argued that the UK should “drop [its] urgent dash to net zero” to avoid “energy rationing” in the winter. Hall tweeted: “This man is full of common sense – net zero needs to be delayed and shale gas sought. Well said [David Frost]”. 

Four months later, during the COP27 climate summit, Frost joined the board of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), the UK’s principal climate science denial group.

In June 2022, during the UK’s record 40C heatwave, Hall shared an article on Twitter which dismissed the role of human-made greenhouse gas emissions on climate change. 

Hall’s tweet urged the then Prime Minister Boris Johnson to “review the net zero agenda – especially now in times of financial hardship”. 

She then directed readers to an article on the Daily Sceptic, a website run by climate science denier Toby Young, headlined: “Climate Scientist Says Humans Cause Less Than 0.05C of Global Warming and Warns of ‘Anarchy’ From ‘Delusional’ Net Zero Policies.” 

It is an “absolute delusion”, the article suggested, “that humans can control the climate with their CO2 emissions”. 

The IPCC has said the role of human-caused emissions on climate change is “unequivocal”, and that human action can limit global warming. 

This is not the only time that Hall has promoted articles that have challenged the scientific consensus on climate change or downplayed the threat of the crisis. In a February 2020 tweet, Hall shared an article by the climate sceptic website Spiked Online which expressed doubt about the extent of climate change. 

Hall tweeted: “Carbon neutral by 2030 promises [London Mayor Sadiq] Khan. Yet he can’t even keep his promise of two million trees in his first term – he can’t be trusted. I recommend this article – it’s a good one.” 

The Spiked article criticised Khan’s green policies, claiming that his “pledge to make London carbon-neutral ignores the issues that really matter to Londoners.” It also made the false claim that “the jury is still out over the extent to which there actually is a ‘climate emergency’”.

Spiked regularly publishes articles that deny climate science, and has received funding from fossil fuel interests. As DeSmog has reported, between 2015 and 2018, the website received $300,000 from the Charles Koch Foundation, an arm of oil giant Koch Industries and a major funder of climate science denial.

In 2020, Hall criticised efforts to cut traffic and encourage cycling in London, tweeting: “The ‘green’ agenda is causing havoc in our city.”

ULEZ Fallout

These views contrast markedly with those of ordinary Londoners. Polling by London Councils in September 2022 showed that 94 percent of Londoners were aware of climate change and 84 percent were concerned about it. More in Common polling released last week also placed climate and the environment as the third most important issue among all UK voters, with concern at a six-month high.

A majority of Londoners also support the ULEZ in its current guise, while a large minority support its expansion to outer London (47 percent) – more than the 32 percent opposed.

A spokesperson for Susan Hall did not address her online posts when contacted by DeSmog. They said that Hall supports the UK’s net zero target and does not disagree with the IPCC about human-caused global warming. 

The spokesperson also referred DeSmog to Hall’s acceptance speech last week in which she said: “[We need] a cleaner city, that is serious about tackling climate change and air pollution, but without taxing the poorest.”

On air pollution, they said Hall would “take action to help specific areas in outer London where there are higher levels of air pollution, by setting up a £50 million hotspots fund which local authorities will be able to bid for”, adding: “She will set out more details on the rest of her environment plan in due course.”

Adam Barnett - new white crop
Adam Barnett is DeSmog's UK News Reporter. He is a former Staff Writer at Left Foot Forward and BBC Local Democracy Reporter.

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