Thirty countries visited in seven months: COP26 president’s air travel is controversial

For the past seven months, Alok Sharma has had a very busy schedule. The British politician traveled to no less than thirty different countries during this period, all by plane. This, despite the fact that he is the president of COP26, the 26th United Nations Conference on Climate Change.

Across the Canal, these numerous business trips are controversial. In the first place, the ecological impact of these trips is highlighted: according to the calculations of the guardianAlok Sharma has traveled, all destinations included, more than 320,000 kilometers in seven months. Or about eight times around the Earth. However, the newspaper points out that the trips of the former British secretary of state were not systematically back and forth to the United Kingdom. Alok Sharma thus visited several countries in one trip.

It visited Brazil, Indonesia, and Kenya in February, followed by India, Costa Rica, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates in March. It flew to East Asian countries in April, before departing for Bangladesh in June. Knowing that the aeronautical industry is known to be one of the most polluting, these numerous air travels are shocking, especially by the president of the COP26, which will be held in Glasgow (Scotland), from November 1 to 12.

Asked about Sky NewsWelsh Prime Minister Mark Drakeford expressed disapproval: “We have all become used to having meetings with people who are abroad without having to travel each time. We want to convince people to change their habits, their modes of travel. […] it is essential that senior officials set an example, that they do not tell themselves that these limitations concern others ”.

Not to mention, Alok Sharma’s movements are also unsettling from a health standpoint. In fact, many of the COP26 president’s flights took place at the beginning of the year, while international travel from Britain was suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, as a “servant of the Crown”, the politician has never had to isolate himself after his travels. This, despite the fact that six of the countries visited were on the British government’s “red list”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s team reacted correctly to the controversy, declaring that “helping the world address the climate emergency is a priority for the government.” According to the spokesperson, “virtual meetings play an important role, but face-to-face meetings are the key to the success of the climate negotiations.” The British executive believes that they are “essential to understand the opportunities and challenges facing other countries” and does not express the intention to do without.

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