COP26: 85% of climate conferences’ carbon footprint comes from flights

Of 53,000 tonnes of CO2, 45,000 were from air travel

Helen Coffey
Monday 01 November 2021 11:53

Flights were responsible for some 85 per cent of recent COP conferences’ carbon footprints, according to research.

Of the 53,374 tonnes of CO2 produced on average by the COP23, COP24 and COP25 events – held in Bonn, Germany, Katowice, Poland and Madrid, Spain respectively – 45,264 came from air travel.

Accommodation accounted for 4,220 tonnes, 2,135 tonnes came from heat and electricity for the conference venues, 616 from local transport and 1,139 from “other” sources, according to data compiled by the Financial Times.

The news comes after the UK government revealed it would slash Air Passenger Duty on domestic flights in half in last week’s Budget announcement.

For trips of up to 2,000km (which covers all of Europe and parts of North Africa) the rate of APD for economy passengers is currently £13. For UK domestic flights, the rate will halve to £6.50 from April 2023.

Climate campaigners denounced the move, arguing that it encourages Brits to fly domestically at a time when they should be incentivised to use lower carbon forms of transport instead.

“No government which cares about protecting the climate or ordinary people’s quality of life would take already scarce resources away from essential low-carbon transport across the UK, in order to further subsidise the most polluting form of transport,” said Alethea Warrington, campaigner at climate charity Possible, writing in The Independent.

“It just doesn’t make sense to encourage plane travel for domestic journeys for which there is a viable, low-carbon alternative.”

Meanwhile, this year’s COP26 event, which started yesterday, was hit by travel chaos on its opening day after trains between London Euston and Glasgow suffered major delays due to inclement weather.

Avanti’s west coast line was blocked because of a tree falling on power lines, the company said, advising customers not to travel.

Passengers, including hundreds of delegates and journalists heading to COP26, were told their tickets could be used today instead.

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