Boris winging it on Con Air

| 10th December 2019

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks to the press on board his campaign plane whilst travelling to Birmingham after a day of visits in Grimsby and the north east. 

Boris Johnson claims he has offset the carbon contribution of his flights after criticism from climate campaigners and Labour.

I'm going to humbly accept your criticism and point out we're offsetting our carbon footprint.

Boris Johnson has defended his use of short-haul flights to dash around the country as he bids for election victory.

The Prime Minister said the Conservative Party has offset the carbon contribution of his flights, which have drawn criticism from climate campaigners and Labour.

He added there was no need to ban aviation but he expected British firms to help develop planes that produce fewer carbon dioxide emissions.

Shoe

The Tory leader visited Grimsby Fish Market on Monday and travelled by road to Robin Hood Airport, near Doncaster, to board a propeller plane to Teesside International, near Darlington.

The 30-minute flight on a plane with more than 70 seats, which appeared at least two-thirds full, was followed by a trip on his campaign battle bus to Washington, near Sunderland.

If Mr Johnson had completed the 114-mile journey from Robin Hood Airport to Washington by road, it would have taken around two hours.

The Prime Minister later returned to Teesside before flying to Birmingham Airport, which again took around 30 minutes, and then drove to a shoe warehouse near Gloucester.

Damaging

The PM began his campaign by using a plane he dubbed "Con Air" to travel to north-east England, Scotland and Northern Ireland before returning to the East Midlands, in one day.

Asked about criticism of him using short-haul flights for his campaigning, given his party's green agenda, Mr Johnson told reporters: "The best way I can respond is by saying we're offsetting the carbon contribution of this flight.

"One day, when we get Brexit done and we drive the technological revolution this country is capable of, we will have not quite Prius aeroplanes but planes that produce much less CO2 and that's the world we should work for."

Mr Johnson said the future has to involve low-carbon planes. He said: "I don't think we should ban aviation, people need to get around, and they can offset it and also work for a world, which is what we're going for, where we've improved engine efficiency so much that flying by plane is no longer as damaging to the atmosphere as it is at the moment."

Criticism

He spoke about the need to retrofit houses to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

He added: "It's Vorsprung durch Technik, it's about technological progress, believing in the abilities of this country to solve our problems - as we can.

"We're going through now an incredible revolution in battery technology. We will have planes that produce much less carbon.

"But in the meantime I'm going to humbly accept your criticism and point out we're offsetting our carbon footprint."

This Author

Richard Wheeler is the PA parliamentary editor. Image: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire. 

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