Chief scientific adviser says flying habits need to change

People should take fewer flights to tackle the climate crisis, according to the government’s chief scientific adviser.

Sir Patrick Vallance called for changes in personal behaviour as he released a joint statement from 38 government scientific advisers to world leaders ahead of the Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow.

Asked whether he thought people need to reduce their meat consumption and flying, Sir Patrick said: “I think those are things that need to happen.

“I think there will be a move away from the extent of meat eating we’ve seen in the past, and I think we will all need to think about our flying habits.”

The statement, issued ahead of the start of Cop26 on Sunday (October 31), said limiting warming “will require rapid, urgent and sustained action and significant behavioural, socioeconomic and technological transformations across the world”.

It said it was still possible to curb temperature rises to 1.5C, but only with steep reductions in global emissions by 2030 and reducing them to zero overall by 2050.

The chief scientific advisor’s comments came as green campaigners slated the chancellor’s decision to make domestic flights cheaper.

In Wednesday’s Budget, Rishi Sunak confirmed a 50% cut in air passenger duty (APD) on UK domestic flights together with a new ‘long distance’ rate on flights of more than 5,500 miles. Labour’s shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves criticised the chancellor for “failing to tackle a huge issue of the day” with his scant mention of climate change in the set piece announcement.

Luke Murphy, head of the Environmental Justice Commission at the Institute for Public Policy Research, said: “The Chancellor…used the budget to extend the ages of fossil fuels.

“Cutting air passenger duty was the most significant new policy mentioned in the Budget speech today which will have an impact on greenhouse gas emissions – and it will increase them.

Green party MP, Caroline Lucas, tweeted: “Yes, you heard that right – RishiSunak is making flights cheaper. Good thing there’s no #ClimateEmergency.”

Picture by ImYanis/Shutterstock

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