Cop26 president Alok Sharma flew to 30 countries in 7 months
Minister responsible for climate conference travelled mainly during winter and spring and did not isolate
The government minister responsible for this year’s UN climate change conference in Glasgow has flown to 30 countries in the past seven months, it has been reported.
Alok Sharma, who was appointed as president of Cop26 in January, has visited countries including Brazil, Indonesia and Kenya since February, according to the Daily Mail.
Most of his journeys were during the winter and spring months at the start of the year when international travel from Britain was largely banned.
He visited India in March, as well as Costa Rica, Qatar and the UAE. April saw trips to the Far East, before he travelled to Bangladesh in June.
Not all of the 30 known journeys were return flights to the UK, as Sharma has visited a group of countries on one trip. However, travel to and from all the destinations Sharma has visited would stretch to 200,000 miles – eight times around the Earth.
The aviation industry produced 915m tonnes of CO2 in 2019, equivalent to 2% of all human-made CO2 emissions.
Sharma did not have to isolate after any of the journeys, despite six being on the government’s “red list” for travel as he was exempt as a “crown servant”.
The UK is hosting the delayed climate change conference Cop26 in Glasgow in October and November. It is the first time since the Paris Climate Change conference in 2015 that countries will set new ambitions for targets in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The Green party peer Jenny Jones criticised the former business minster, saying: “‘I do understand it’s very good to meet people in person, but this is excessive.
“When you’re in charge of Cop26, to take this many flights is hypocritical.”
In an interview last month, Sharma said “we all need to play our part” in taking measures to stop the climate crisis, and encouraged small changes which could make a difference.
At a press conference on Wednesday in Scotland, Boris Johnson said that limiting temperature rises to below 1.5C under the Paris climate deal “was going to be a tough ambition, this is a difficult thing to achieve”.
“I want the world to recognise the extent of the challenge, and I want everybody to try to rise to meet it in the way that I just set out with those ambitions.
“We must, must, must be as ambitious and as tough as possible and that’s what we’re going to do.”
The Labour leader, Keir Starmer, accused the prime minister of being “missing in action” ahead of the crucial climate talks.
A government spokesperson said: “Helping the world tackle the climate emergency is an international priority for the government. Virtual meetings play a large part, however face to face meetings are key to success in the climate negotiations the UK is leading as hosts of Cop26 and are crucial to understanding first-hand the opportunities and challenges other countries are facing in the fight against climate change.”