The conference's cost to the earth

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Tony Blair thinks future Earth summits might best be done through televisual conferencing and electronic link-ups. Staying at home would save on climate- changing emissions from aircraft, he was due to say in his speech, although that bit was cut out to shorten it.

He had a point. The UK's ministerial presence at the Earth Summit Plus Five event spewed out over 100 times more global-warming carbon dioxide gas in a few days than the average Briton is responsible for in an entire year.

The great bulk of this climate changing cloud came from Concorde, chartered cheap rate from British Airways to take Mr Blair and Foreign Secretary Robin Cook to the G7 summit in Denver then on to the New York event yesterday. That necessitated 14 hours' flying by the world's ultimate gas guzzler, clocking up nearly 1,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Three other ministers, John Prescott, Clare Short and Michael Meacher, are flying to New York and back sub-sonically by jumbo jet, with 40 members of the UK's official delegation, including the former environment secretary John Gummer. Altogether this delegation will be responsible for more than 30 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.