Britain defends PM Johnson's plan to jet out of COP26 back to London

British PM Boris Johnson speaks during an event on the sidelines of the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, on Nov 1, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

GLASGOW (AFP) - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will fly back to London from Glasgow rather than taking the train after berating world leaders for not doing more on climate change, Downing Street said Monday (Nov 1).

Aviation - especially the private kind - is a bete noir of the environmental lobby as it emits vastly more carbon per passenger than other forms of transport.

Hundreds of campaigners attending the COP26 conference in Scotland's biggest city have come up from London by train, although the main line to Glasgow was hit by lengthy storm-related delays Sunday.

Johnson flew in to COP26 late Sunday from Rome, where he was attending a weekend G-20 summit, aboard a chartered Airbus plane painted in a patriotic UK livery.

He will use the same jet to return to London on Tuesday, his office said, after opening a two-day COP26 summit by warning that future generations "will not forgive us" if leaders fail to act.

London is some 350 miles (560km) from Glasgow as the crow flies or 400 miles by road.

"It's important that the prime minister is able to move around the country and we face significant time constraints," Johnson's spokesman told reporters in Glasgow.

"The fuel we are using is sustainable and the emissions are offset as well," he stressed, adding that under Johnson's leadership, Britain was "leading the way on efforts to get to net zero".

Other leaders have echoed Johnson's demands for climate change action but also face criticism for their own transportation choices.

US President Joe Biden's convoy in Rome numbered more than 80 vehicles, led by his bomb-proof car "The Beast", which is not known for its fuel efficiency.

Many of those cars as well as those of other delegations sat idling their engines outside the G-20 summit venue as the leaders deliberated inside.

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