Calls to declare a climate emergency in the capital have been slammed as “virtue signalling” and a “gratuitous attack” on the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

The calls came during a London Assembly plenary meeting earlier today from Green Party assembly member Caroline Russell.

Mr Russell said: “Catastrophic climate breakdown might be as little as 12 years away.

“The actions we take today will rest with us and affect our children, grandchildren and future generations.

“The Mayor needs to be at the forefront of this challenge, declaring a climate emergency and an urgent updating of his carbon reduction targets to make London carbon neutral by 2030, decades ahead of his current plans.”

Ms Russell said the wildfires that took place over the summer were just one example of how climate change was worsening, and that Mr Khan needed to set a “precedent” for other major world cities.

But Labour assembly member Leonie Cooper hit out at Ms Russell for the wording of the motion.

Ms Cooper said: “I find it extremely disappointing that you have drafted something that is an entirely gratuitous attack on the Mayor of London.

“We know the temperature and the climate is changing. So, I don’t know why you find it necessary to draft something like that when the mayor has done an awful lot.”

Steps taken by Mr Khan to reduce climate change include creating the Ultra Low Emissions Zone, introducing the T-Zone Charge and fighting plans to build a third runway at Heathrow Airport.

Ms Cooper said: “Worse than making gratuitous attacks on the mayor I find it quite difficult to be lectured by Caroline about the need for addressing a climate emergency when the greens have refused to serve on the fire, resilience and emergency planning committee.”

She said that if Ms Russell really took issues such as climate change and wild grass fires seriously she would be serving on the committee and “picking-up” the issues.

Ms Cooper added: “What I can’t stand is what I consider to be virtue signalling and it seems to me that not serving on the committee is not actually addressing the practical issues of what we call a climate emergency.

“Just coming here to talk about it in this chamber is nothing but virtue signalling.”

Ms Cooper then put forward an amended the motion to take out the “attacks on the mayor” and called on the Government to give the mayor powers and funding to make London carbon neutral.

The assembly voted to pass the motion.