Government to offset carbon emissions for ministers' flights - Environment - The Independent

Government to offset carbon emissions for ministers' flights

A A A

Every flight by a minister or civil servant on government business will be offset by payments into funds that help developing countries cut their carbon emissions, under a new scheme.

The announcement yesterday is designed to end criticism that ministers have been preaching the importance of tackling climate change while adding to the problem with their frequent flights abroad.

Environmentalists welcomed the move, but warned that it will have only a minimal effect on the problem of the world's ever-expanding air traffic, which is the fastest growing source of carbon emissions from the developed countries.

The Chancellor Gordon Brown has resisted pressure to increase flight taxes or put an extra tax on every aircraft that takes off from a UK airport. It is feared that increasing the cost of flights would have only a limited effect on the number of people who travel by air, with the worst hit being those families who can only afford low-budget holidays.

But ministers believe they have to set an example if the UK is to retain its leading role in worldwide negotiations over combating climate change. After last July's Gleneagles summit, where Tony Blair pushed climate change to the top of the agenda, the organisers paid £50,000 to development projects in Africa to offset the cost to the environment of ferrying the leaders of the world's richest nations to and from Scotland.

The Cabinet Office issues details every year of how often ministers have travelled abroad. When the next set of figures comes out in the summer, they are expected to show that ministerial and civil service air travel is equivalent approximately to 100,000 flights from London to New York.

Last year's figures showed that Mr Blair had been abroad 21 times in the previous year, using a mixture of Royal Squadron and charter flights. The Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett was nicknamed "air miles Margaret " when it emerged that she had made 26 trips abroad and had used the Queen's Flight for no fewer than 18 of them. The Liberal Democrats calculated that her journeys would have sent 31 tons of carbon into the atmosphere.

Friends of the Earth aviation campaigner Tony Bosworth said: "The Government can't put its house in order by just offsetting its emissions ­ it must also urgently review its aviation policies. The runaway growth of aviation threatens to make it virtually impossible to meet our long-term climate targets. Ministers must abandon plans to allow a massive expansion in UK airports and increase air passenger duty (airport departure tax) as a first step to fair taxation of the industry."

The Liberal Democrat environment spokesman Chris Huhne said: "Voluntary agreements must be welcomed if they are to raise awareness of the environmental damage caused by aviation. However, we must remember that they are a sticking plaster solution that does nothing to address the real problems of growing demand and growing emissions. An initial step would be to scrap air passenger duty and replace it with an emissions charge on each aircraft taking off."

The Climate Change minister Elliott Morley appealed to British tourists travelling abroad for Easter to become more aware of the environment impact of their journeys, and to consider offsetting them with a contribution to the Travel Foundation. The Foundation, set up with the support of holiday companies aims to encourage "sustainable tourism". It promotes measures such as low-energy technology in hotels and better insulation.

Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
filmMatt Damon in talks to return
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Life and Style
tech... and together they're worth at least £100 million
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig is believed to be donning skies as 007 for the first time
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
Life and Style
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
tech(but you can't escape: Bono is always on your iPhone)
Sport
Tim Wiese
sport
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Programme Test Manager

£400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are currently seekin...

IT Network Manager - Shepherd's Bush, London

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Network Manager - Shepherd's Bush...

Secondary supply teachers needed in Peterborough

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Secondary supply teac...

Modern Foreign Languages Teacher

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: Full time German Supply Teacher...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week