Azara Blog: Tony Blair says people should be allowed to fly

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Date published: 2007/01/09

The BBC says:

Tony Blair has said he will not give up long-haul holiday flights - and said a green agenda should not lead to people feeling they cannot have a "good time".

The prime minister, just back from Florida, told Sky News science could allow responsible economic growth.

He warned against "putting people off the green agenda by saying you must not have a good time anymore".

Greenpeace said he should be setting an example, while Friends of the Earth called his comments "disappointing".

Asked whether he would give up long-haul flights, Mr Blair said: "I personally think these things are a bit impractical actually to expect people to do that.

"I think that what we need to do is to look at how you make air travel more energy efficient, how you develop the new fuels that will allow us to burn less energy and emit less.

"How - for example - in the new frames for the aircraft, they are far more energy efficient."

He added: "You know, I'm still waiting for the first politician who's actually running for office who's going to come out and say it (that people should not fly) - and they're not.

"It's like telling people you shouldn't drive anywhere."

Demands placed on people had to be reasonable to prevent putting people off climate change sacrifices altogether, Mr Blair added.

He said: "Britain is 2% of the world's emissions. We shut down all of Britain's emissions tomorrow - the growth in China will make up the difference within two years.

"So we've got to be realistic about how much obligation we've got to put on ourselves."
Greenpeace campaigner Emily Armistead said: "Tony Blair is crossing his fingers and hoping someone will invent aeroplanes that don't cause climate change.

"But that's like holding out for cigarettes that don't cause cancer."

Friends of the Earth head of campaigns Mike Childs said: "It's disappointing that Tony Blair is refusing to set an example on tackling climate change."

No, it is not "disappointing that Tony Blair is refusing to set an example on tackling climate change". It is the so-called environmentalists, not Tony Blair, who believe that the world must stop tomorrow. They themselves should "set an example" and promise that they, their staff, and their families will never fly anywhere. Ever. Period. For any reason. Not even to grandstand at the next G8 (or similar) conference.

Blair has never criticised others for flying so he is perfectly well entitled to fly. But he is wrong that no politician has said that people should not fly. The Lib Dem environment spokesperson, Chris Huhne, has said so pretty clearly, in spite of the fact that he himself was perfectly happy to fly up and down Britain when he was running to become Lib Dem leader. And the Tories (e.g. Steven Norris) have also pretty clearly stated that they think ordinary people should not be allowed to fly. It is possible that Gordon Brown will follow suit. So at the next election, it is possible that all political parties will be pushing an anti-airplane agenda. (Of course the ruling elite will continue to fly, often at the expense of the taxpayer.)

The one remaining good point about Tony Blair is that at least he has some interest in the workers of the nation. Most other politicians only care about the rich (like themselves) and the poor (who they can patronise). Tony Blair speaks for the people. Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth speak for the comfortable middle class (like themselves).

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