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Climate change expert blasts Emma Thompson for racking up air miles


University of Manchester academic Prof Kevin Anderson, pictured, has criticised celebrities for flying first and business class, including Dame Emma Thompson

University of Manchester academic Prof Kevin Anderson, pictured, has criticised celebrities for flying first and business class, including Dame Emma Thompson

A climate change expert has called for celebrities to stop flying around the world for their jobs to help save the planet.

Professor Kevin Anderson also said airlines should scrap their first and business class seats because those using them have a higher carbon footprint due to the amount of space they take up on a plane.

The University of Manchester academic also criticised Dame Emma Thompson for flying more than 5,000 miles to London from Los Angeles to join Extinction Rebellion protests and subsequently calling for people to ‘fly less’.

She was later spotted in a luxury cabin on a British Airways flight from Heathrow to New York days later.

The Oscar-winning actress said she needs to fly for her job and tries to offset the impact of travel by planting trees. But Prof Anderson said celebrities should not be allowed to use offsetting as an excuse.

It comes as other celebrities have been accused of hypocrisy over their air travel, including ex-footballer and Match of the Day host Gary Lineker and former Labour leader Ed Miliband, who both signed a letter calling for more action on climate change from the Government.

Mr Lineker was then criticised for flying business class to the World Cup in Russia last year, while Mr Miliband has racked up 19,000 air miles around the world in the past three years.

Prof Anderson told the BBC: ‘There’s a small group of people who are very frequent flyers and these people cannot be using offsetting to allow them to carry on “business as usual”.

‘They need to radically change how it is they run and operate their lives’.

He also criticised Dame Emma Thompson for flying 5,000 miles from Los Angeles to London to speak at an Extinction Rebellion protest last month when she could have 'paid for a billboard poster in Piccadilly' to get her message across

He also criticised Dame Emma Thompson for flying 5,000 miles from Los Angeles to London to speak at an Extinction Rebellion protest last month when she could have ‘paid for a billboard poster in Piccadilly’ to get her message across

It comes as other celebrities including Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker have been accused of hypocrisy by supporting climate change campaigns while continuing to fly. Lineker, pictured on a plane with Strictly Come Dancing judge Bruno Tonioli, flew business class to the World Cup in Russia last year while former teammate Terry Butcher sat in a standard seat

It comes as other celebrities including Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker have been accused of hypocrisy by supporting climate change campaigns while continuing to fly. Lineker, pictured on a plane with Strictly Come Dancing judge Bruno Tonioli, flew business class to the World Cup in Russia last year while former teammate Terry Butcher sat in a standard seat

On Dame Emma, he added: ‘When Emma Thompson came to the Extinction Rebellion event she could just as easily have paid for a billboard poster in Piccadilly and get her message across there.

‘She could have flown standard class instead of business class which would have reduced her emissions by about a third.

‘If you travel business or first class you take up far more space on the plane and that means that your emissions per seat are far, far higher.

‘So if we are going to fly at all, we should never be in first or business class. We should always sit in cattle class with everyone else.’

He added: ‘We have had people making films for many decades now and they didn’t have to fly all around the world to do it. In the media, with sport, with academics, we have had people pursuing these things without regularly flying.’ 

David Beckham has also been slammed for taking long-haul flights while supporting climate change efforts. He is pictured arriving at Nanjing Lukou International Airport on June 18, 2013 in Nanjing, China. He flew seven times between Britain and Miami, twice from the UK to Beijing, and to California and Jakarta all in 2018

David Beckham has also been slammed for taking long-haul flights while supporting climate change efforts. He is pictured arriving at Nanjing Lukou International Airport on June 18, 2013 in Nanjing, China. He flew seven times between Britain and Miami, twice from the UK to Beijing, and to California and Jakarta all in 2018

Dame Emma’s flight to JFK in May would have generated around two tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) – the main driver of climate change – while first class travel to New York with BA costs around £18,000. 

Meanwhile Former England footballer Mr Lineker flew business class to the World Cup while ex-teammate Terry Butcher sat in economy on the same flight. 

It means Mr Lineker would have produced 0.6 tonnes of CO2 compared to Butcher’s 0.4 tonnes in cattle class. 

Former shadow environment secretary and Labour leader Ed Miliband, pictured, racked up 19,000 air miles in the past three years but signed a letter calling for climate change action from the Government

Former shadow environment secretary and Labour leader Ed Miliband, pictured, racked up 19,000 air miles in the past three years but signed a letter calling for climate change action from the Government

Former shadow environment secretary Mr Miliband said he ‘could do more’ when asked about his trips on Politics Live.

According to the register of interests, donors paid for him to visit New York, Chicago and Iceland among other destinations.

Meanwhile David Beckham and Emma Watson were slammed for flying first class, despite leading environmental campaigns.

Beckham, who supported climate change documentary Our Planet, reportedly took 30 long-haul trips in 2018, which would have given off four times as much CO2 than if he had travelled in economy.

Actress Miss Watson, 29, is also said to have flown first class to the US regularly last year, despite often wearing sustainable fashion on the red carpet.

Prof Anderson said he was proof people do not regularly have to fly after revealing how he took 11 trains to work at a conference in China, and travelled by container ship to Iceland, spending weeks in both countries to justify his going there in the first place.

British Airways did not say whether it would consider scrapping first class or business class seats.

Emma Watson pictured at the first meeting for the G7 (Group of Seven) Advisory Council For Gender Equality with French President Emmanuel Macron. She has also spoken out against climate change in the past but has been criticised for flying first-class

Emma Watson pictured at the first meeting for the G7 (Group of Seven) Advisory Council For Gender Equality with French President Emmanuel Macron. She has also spoken out against climate change in the past but has been criticised for flying first-class

A spokeswoman said: ‘We are working hard to reduce our emissions and we have a clear roadmap to do this. We take our commitments seriously and play our part.

‘In addition to the 44 new generation fuel-efficient aircraft already in service, British Airways has a further 69 of these aircraft on order.

‘We were the first airline to offer a carbon offset scheme 17 years ago and we continue to offer a facility for our customers to support low carbon projects in the UK and around the world.’

Gary Lineker’s agent did not respond to requests for comment.

Emma Watson’s spokeswoman said she had offset her air travel carbon emissions.

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