Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

A Labour mayor has racked up an impressive 22,500 air miles in since September 2023 – despite passionately campaigning on behalf of the climate. Bristol’s Marvin Rees travelled to the US, France, Rwanda and Dubai – boarding seven flights in the process, according to the Mail on Sunday.

Mr Rees has been accused of hypocrisy having made a speech during his visit to the US about how cities can cut emissions, while also attending the COP28 UN climate change conference in Dubai earlier this month – despite being just a regional mayor.

Similar criticism was aimed at Tory Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary David Cameron, who each attended COP28 in separate private jets, which are far more polluting per person than average commercial planes. King Charles also took a private jet to Dubai – and the Royal Family are perhaps the biggest hypocrites when it comes to environmental lecturing.

In the age of virtual Zoom meeting technology, critics have pointed out that flying to make short speeches should no longer be acceptable. Mr Rees also made a 9,000-mile round trip in 2022 to give a 14-minute speech in Vancouver, Canada.

Meanwhile, his recent carbon-polluting trip to Rwanda was to attend the Commonwealth Local Government Conference in the country’s capital, Kigali. At the same time, 400 residents of a tower block in Bristol had to be evacuated after their living space was deemed unsafe.

Climate campaigners Flight Free UK said that Mr Rees’s flights alone since September have created almost 4.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide per passenger. This is just short of the entire annual carbon footprint of the average UK resident, which in 2022 was five tonnes – although another report put it at 11.7 tonnes.

The global average is about four tonnes, while the American average is sixteen tonnes. The average African person emits just one tonne per year – despite the continent facing the worst impacts of climate breakdown.

Flight Free UK’s director, Anna Hughes, said: ‘It’s unclear why a local mayor is flying to an international conference such as COP.

“In this time of climate emergency, we should question very carefully whether it’s necessary to burn tons of fossil fuels in order to appear in person at events that require a long-haul flight.”

Nevertheless, Rees was unmoved by criticism, vaguely saying that if he didn’t attend then Bristol’s reputation would diminish.

He added: “I just think it’s part of the job. But I get it. I get it takes a few steps to be able to understand that.”

Neither Mr Rees nor Bristol City Council would comment on his recent flight statistics.

Bristol Tory Councillor Mark Weston said it “smacks of hypocrisy” and that he is “not an international representative” and should be “in Bristol, governing Bristol”.

Man-made climate change is overwhelmingly caused by the burning of fossil fuels and the destruction of nature, which acts as a carbon sink. Campaigners have warned of future war and famine as a result of our decreasing access to clean water and worsening ability to grow food.

They put this down to climate-related impacts such as an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather, as well as rising sea levels and disease-carrying animals migrating to new places.

The Express has previously published a map of areas in the UK which Climate Central says may be uninhabitable by 2050, as well as a report explaining the new diseases the UK may face.

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