Should one use a private jet to campaign over climate crisis?

(The Guardian, 3 Sep 2019) Prince Harry has faced flak for his carbon footprint but others have a similar dilemma.

Their style could hardly be more different, though their aims are the same: as Greta Thunberg sailed into New York last week on a low-carbon high-tech yacht to highlight the climate crisis, Prince Harry faced flak for taking private jets for short-hop breaks while campaigning against global heating. But the contrast between the two reflects broader dilemmas in the environmental movement.

On Tuesday, the Duke of Sussex invited further ridicule as he flew into Amsterdam – a direct Eurostar train from London takes three hours and 41 minutes – to unveil an initiative for the tourism industry, Travalyst, which aims to reduce the impact of holidaymakers but encourages travel.

Harry defended his flying record on the basis that “nobody is perfect”, and that “occasionally [there is] a unique circumstance to ensure that my family are safe”.

The Guardian recently calculated, using data from the German NGO Atmosfair, that a UK citizen taking a single flight can have the same impact on the climate in a few hours as a person in one of the world’s least developed countries does in a whole year. For the prince, travel by private plane for his family is likely to generate as much as an entire village.

But not everyone can solve their travel problems like Thunberg, as there is unlikely to be a transatlantic sailing boom to replace flying.

Tony Juniper, one of the UK’s most prominent environmentalists who has worked with Prince Charles and now chairs Natural England, said the prince was not alone in facing green dilemmas.

External link

The Guardian, 3 Sep 2019: Should one use a private jet to campaign over climate crisis?