The Labour figurehead has come under fire in the past after being spotted driving the high-polluting 4x4 to work, having promised during his 2019 election campaign to use a bike, public transport, or electric car for his commute.
But he told a North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA) cabinet meeting this week that he “did arrive here on my bike and I don’t own a car”.
It came as the region’s leaders discussed recommendations on how to drastically cut emissions across Northumberland, Newcastle and North Tyneside.
Recent findings from a Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change, made up of 50 ordinary people from the area, urged councils and the NTCA to take such radical steps as retrofitting all houses in the area to make them more energy-efficient and scrapping a free parking after 5pm offer in Newcastle city centre.
Mr Driscoll told the cabinet meeting that tackling the climate crisis was a “vast problem” and warned that some of the assembly’s recommendations, which also included created an electric or hydrogen-powered public transport network and a commitment to plant a minimum of 300,000 trees within three years, would be beyond the powers of the combined authority.
He said that the task was a “pretty awesome responsibility” for the current generation of political leaders, but an “opportunity in so many ways” to create a zero-carbon, zero-poverty North East.
Newcastle City Council leader Nick Forbes added that climate change was also the “greatest opportunity for job creation that we have had in several generations”, saying that he hoped that the North of Tyne region would become a world-class hub for the development of green technologies.
Richard Wearmouth, the Conservative deputy leader of Northumberland County Council, jokingly congratulated Mr Driscoll on his decision to drop the Land Rover Defender in favour of a bicycle.
He added that the area’s councils cannot be a “talking shop” when it comes to climate change.
The NTCA cabinet agreed to endorse the citizens’ assmebly’s collective statement saying that climate change is a “credible, urgent and real threat” and “must be a major priority for our mayor who must lead the way and lead by example”.