Boris Johnson has become the new prime minister of the UK after winning the Conservative party leadership campaign. Here’s what Johnson has said and done about climate change

Earth 4 June 2019 , updated 23 July 2019
Boris Johnson won 66 per cent of the vote by the Conservative party membership with an 87.4 per cent turnout

Stefan Rousseau/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

With stints as mayor of London and the UK’s foreign secretary, Johnson has never held a government position specifically related to science and technology, but he has often spoken out on matters like climate change and the environment.

As mayor of London, Johnson shrank the city’s congestion charge zone, counter to efforts to reduce carbon emissions and air pollution, but he did encourage cycling by rolling-out a public bike hire scheme. He said in 2016 that he wished he had built “more segregated cycling routes for London.”

In 2013 he announced plans for an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), but was criticised for delaying the implementation period until after he had left power and for limiting the affected area to the Congestion Charge Zone. His successor Sadiq Khan implemented a much wider reaching version of the ULEZ which will eventually include all vehicles within the north and south circular roads.

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In a 2014 interview with New Scientist, during his time as mayor, Johnson said that he thought the London of 2034 would no longer have any vehicles powered by fossil fuels. He also said London should “definitely, absolutely” have a nuclear power station, though it is unclear if these remarks were intended seriously.

Johnson has generally voted against measures to prevent climate change. In 2013, during a snowy UK winter, he highlighted a factually incorrect claim by Piers Corbyn (a weather forecaster who, coincidently, is the brother of Johnson’s would-be rival, the current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn) that low solar activity could lead to a mini ice age.

He came out against the expansion of the UK’s largest airport, Heathrow, though ultimately missed a key vote to block it as he was in Afghanistan conducting his duties as foreign secretary.

During the BBC’s Conservative party leadership debate, Boris was challenged about the plans to expand Heathrow airport and said he continued to have reservations about a third runway, and claimed that London’s CO2 emissions were cut during his time in power.

During the Brexit campaign, Johnson famously proposed spending £350 million a week on the National Health Service, paid for with money saved by exiting the European Union. This figure has been widely disputed.

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