Mr Porrit and his love affair with flying
I FLEW 62,000 MILES LAST YEAR . .
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09:00 - 05 July 2007
Environmental campaigner Jonathon Porritt had a mixed reaction from local green groups after revealing he has flown more than 62,000 miles in the past year.His 42 flights include trips to Aberdeen and Belfast as well as European destinations, and places further afield such as Cape Town in South Africa and Vancouver in Canada.
Mr Porritt, from Cheltenham, points out that all flights were taken in his capacity as founder director of Forum for the Future, co-director of The Prince of Wales's Business & the Environment Programme and chairman of the Sustainable Development Commission.
But Cathy Green, founder of the 'One Tonners', which aims to reduce carbon footprints in the West by 90 per cent by 2030, says Mr Porritt could not be a member of their group.
"I obviously don't want to take a pop at anybody else who is on the same side and all his work has been very worthwhile," Mrs Green, from the Cheltenham-based group, said.
"But he would not be able to be a member of the One-Tonners because you cannot take any flights at all.
"Even flights for campaigning purposes would be frowned upon."
But Phillip Booth, spokesman for the Gloucestershire Green party, said: "The debate about Jonathon Porritt is a distraction. What we really need to focus on is that our Government still hasn't grasped the urgency or the need for radical changes.
"Green campaigners constantly risk accusations of being hypocrites. Yet life is full of grey areas and being pure and virtuous is never as easy, nor perhaps even as desirable, as it might appear."
Mr Porritt revealed the statistics on his website after a question from the public was posted.
".... I believe any activists/champions in this area need to be up-front about their own carbon footprint," he says on the website.
"There are no personal flights included .... as I have taken none. There are many times in the year when I have little choice other than to fly.
"I have spent 35 years getting quite good at articulating this sustainability stuff and (hopefully) inspiring others to get things sorted out themselves.
"I am nearly 57 years old now, and have decided to just 'go for it' for the next three years, to help press every influential button I can during that time.
"So, once I have judged that an opportunity is worth pursuing strategically, then how I get there is a secondary - albeit still very important issue.
"When I can use video-conferencing, I do. When I can use the train in the UK, and time allows, I always do. I don't have a car.
"Do I feel guilty about all that? Absolutely not.
"Do I feel responsible for making sure that decisions are taken conscientiously and that the resulting impacts are managed properly? Absolutely!
"That's why all three of the organisations mentioned above take offsetting extremely seriously - not as a perfect solution, it has to be said, but not the kind of flaky, guilt-assuaging cop-out that so many people think offsets represent."
Comments on his website included one from Michael Nidd who said: "If Mr Porritt was serious about reducing his carbon contribution the answer is simple: Fly Less Frequently."
"I\'d clean my car with a baby elephant - if I had a baby elephant !"