A seven-step guide to winning support for tough action on climate change – the first book from the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan
For many years, Sadiq wasn't fully aware of the dangers posed by air pollution, nor its connection with climate change. Then, at the age of 43, he was unexpectedly diagnosed with adult-onset asthma – brought on by the polluted London air he had been breathing for decades.
Scandalised, Sadiq underwent a political transformation that would see him become one of the most prominent global politicians fighting (and winning) elections on green issues. Since becoming Mayor of London in 2016, he has declared a climate emergency, introduced the world's first Ultra-Low Emission Zone, built hundreds of kilometres of new cycle lanes, led a drive for affordable insulation in council homes, and turned London into the first ever 'National Park City'.
But with every year bringing more wildfires, extreme temperatures and flooding – and with around 4,000 people still dying prematurely from London's polluted air every year, with older, working class and ethnic minority Londoners most affected – there is so much more to do.
Now, Sadiq draws on his experiences to identify the seven ways environmental action gets blown off course. And he reveals how to get it back on track, by:
- Proving to sceptics that the climate crisis is a health crisis too;
- Overcoming voters' cynicism by building coalitions across the political spectrum;
- Shaking hands with everyone from your fiercest opponents to the most steadfast climate activists (even if you're a bit worried they might superglue you).
Breathe is a call to action demonstrating how anyone – whether voter, activist or politician – can win the argument on climate. It will help create a world where we can all breathe again.
Sadiq Khan is the Mayor of London. Born and raised in Tooting, he began his career as a human rights lawyer before being elected to parliament in 2005. He was elected Mayor in 2016 and was re-elected in 2021 with a record number of votes for any sitting Mayor.
Sadiq became passionate about air pollution and climate change after developing asthma while training for the 2014 London Marathon. Since then, he has been on a mission to make London greener. Today, London is recognised around the world for its pioneering climate policies.
He still lives in Tooting, which he maintains is the best bit of the best city in the world.
"A warm, optimistic, urgent call for change"
– Sathnam Sanghera, author of Empireland
"The strategic lessons he imparts mark him out as an exemplar for an age of climate breakdown [...] Deserves to be widely read [...] Breathe is a breath of fresh air, offering an antidote to cynicism and demonstrating the power of a politics that aims to bring people together in the search for solutions."
"A true climate leader [...] Sadiq recognises that the struggles for social justice and climate justice cannot be separated but go hand-in-hand"
– Ed Miliband
"Practical and highly readable [...] For those wanting evidence that climate policies need not be the political kryptonite so many politicians fear, Khan's book makes a convincing – and uplifting – case."
– Financial Times
"If you want to build a greener world, you need to win people round to green politics. This remarkable book offers a transformative insight into how"
– Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris