"Ethical Man my a***"
- 17 Oct 06, 05:01 PM
Today the National Trust is encouraging us all to contribute a diary to an online archive of a day in the life of Britain.
They want to know what you ate, where you went, what you listened to on your iPod. The idea is to compile all the humdrum events of one ordinary day to create a unique social history of Britain for future generations.
So how many of you will record how you thumbed through brochures looking for your next exotic holiday or for that matter flew off to some far-flung idyll? And now pause and consider whether that’s something you are likely to be doing in 20 years time – or for that matter in 10.
Because the most striking thing I’ve learnt since my editor appointed me Newsnight’s Ethical Man is just how polluting flying is.
In the weeks before the project began my family flew off for some cheap winter sun in the Canaries. When we worked out our carbon footprint that one short holiday was responsible for more carbon dioxide than heating my house for a year or all the emissions from the family’s estate car.
That message was banged home today in a report from Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute. It says aviation will consume an increasingly large proportion of Britain’s carbon budget even under the most conservative growth forecasts and concludes that current aviation policy is at odds with the government’s targets for climate change.
But are there ways we can neutralise the effects of our extravagant carbon consumption and continue to fly? That’s what I set out to find for tonight’s Newsnight and what’s more I flew all the way to Jamaica to find out.
I know some people will be shocked that a man who claims to be trying to minimise his carbon footprint took a plane. My wife certainly was, not least because since we are now living as an “ethical” family we’ve eschewed aviation, given up our car and took the train to France for our summer holiday.
“Ethical Man my arse,” she said when I told her that me and a cameraman were off to Jamaica for the weekend. You can see her full reaction tonight.
Watch the programme if you can and please tell us whether you think we were right to fly all the way to Jamaica for this item. Is carbon offsetting an answer to the challenge of reducing carbon emissions or will it just compound the problem by discouraging us from changing the way we behave now?
Answers on an postcard, please – or at least via the comments form below...