Tuesday, 9 January 2007

Tony Blair and those long haul flights

Tony Blair has just got back from another foreign holiday - this time in Florida courtesy I understand of one of the Bee Gees pop group - and has been questioned on his love of long haul flights that he and his family take for their holidays. Everyone should know by now the rapidly increasing emissions put out by the expansion of cheap flights and many of us want to see a curb on their use. I would agree that we need a healthy airline industry but don't see any need for its relentless expansion. Isn't one long holiday a year in farflung foreign parts enough for the Blairs? No evidently. I remember, at the time of the Foot and Mouth crisis of 2001 which caused much hardship to our tourism industry, Tony Blair was persuaded to take some holiday in this country. He spent just a few days in Cornwall before going abroad as usual. At the time I thought it was just a gesture and that he didn't really enjoy it. This is a far cry from Harold and Mary Wilson going to the Scillies or to the Thatchers regularly staying with friends somewhere in, I believe, the Padstow area.

Surely the Blairs could limit themselves to one foreign holiday per annum and then have another holiday in the westcountry for instance. He might learn a little bit about us rather than neglecting us! He says he is going to make his personal trips abroad "carbon neutral", is Cherie doing this as well? It seems that a popular way to salve one's conscience is to plant some trees but as trees expire CO2 over a long period of time compared with the very short timeslot of emissions during a flight I would like to see some figures as to how long it takes a tree to grow to compensate. But of course aircraft emissions should take into account a lot of other things other than individual flights. Here are a few activities stacking up carbon emissions: design, testing and manufacture of the aircraft, servicing, repair and decommissioning of planes, construction of airports (manufacture of concrete is particularly bad for the environment). I bet these things aren't factored in! I could extend the argument to another level: if we import food and goods by plane from abroad then these are part of our CO2 contribution even if the plane was to start in China for instance, it is we who are doing the buying.

This is not to wave a stick at the airlines but more a case of pointing out the damage they are doing. There are life enhancing reasons to jet off somewhere and of course many families are spread out over different countries, continents even but as to two or three holidays abroad each year that is just too much.

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