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Thursday, 16 July 2009

Do as I say not as I do

“Unless we act now, not some time distant but now, these consequences, disastrous as they are,will be irreversible. So there is nothing more serious, more urgent or more demanding of leadership.”

--- Tony Blair speaking at the launch of the Stern review, 30 October 2006

Interviewer: Have you thought of perhaps not flying to Barbados for a holiday and not using all those air miles?

Tony Blair: I would, frankly, be reluctant to give up my holidays abroad.

Interviewer: It would send out a clear message though wouldn’t it, if we didn’t see that great big air journey off to the sunshine? . . . – a holiday closer to home?

Tony Blair: Yeah – but 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.
I know everyone always – people probably think the Prime Minister shouldn’t go on holiday at all, but I think if what we do in this area is set people unrealistic targets, you know if we say to people we’re going to cancel all the cheap air travel . . . 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 – and they’re not.

--- interview with Tony Blair, 9 January 2007

Apart from demonstrating his hypocrisy, the comment flagged up Blair's ignorance of energy issues. Aeroplanes are already highly optimised and the potential for further improvements are limited, although anyone flying around in small chartered jets (Learjets and Gulfstreams etc) is probably burning far more fuel per passenger km than is achieved on larger commercial jets.

It seems his successor is no better spending more than £4.6 million of taxpayers’ money on foreign travel over the last year, not once using a scheduled flight for international visits, instead chartering a series of private jets. Brown made several trips to Paris and Brussels on chartered aircraft when he could have traveled far more cheaply and just as fast on the Eurostar, and more importantly at far lower environmental cost.

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