Council sends mayor to speak about decarbonisation at climate conference in France – via easyJet flight

Oxford City Council has come under fire after sending the Lord Mayor to a climate conference in France on an easyJet flight.

Mark Lygo, the city’s Lord Mayor from 2020-22, tweeted pictures of himself boarding the plane on 20 March with the caption: “Off to our twining city in Grenoble – France [sic]. Climate conference.”

Although he seemed unaware of the apparent contradiction of traveling via the most polluting form of transport and attending a climate change event, Twitter users were quick to point it out.

“This is incredible…the train is quick and easy – pls read my thread about my recent trip to Geneva if you need help on logistics,” replied Communications Lead Charlotte Baker. “But seriously – this is a terrible look.”

“Fixed that for you,” wrote Freddie Jackson, alongside a photoshopped image of Lygo next to a Eurostar train.

More than 150 comments were left criticizing the councilor for his choice of transport.

Oxford City Council defended the move, replying under Lygo’s tweet: “Oxford has a very active twinning program with Grenoble and other cities. We send our Lord Mayor on official business to strengthen the relationship with our neighbors and update them on Oxford’s leading work on decarbonisation and other initiatives.

“We’re a low mileage Council, and we send him by air because it’s quick, and the meeting is important.”

(The Council sent the same response to The Independent when approached for comment.)

This response also attracted users’ ire; “What ‘important’ decarbonisation outcomes will this conference deliver that couldn’t have been delivered without flying a minor politician to Grenoble for a minibreak?” commented Jon Burke.

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The city of Grenoble in south-east France is accessible by train from London in around 6-7 hours, involving just two trains: a Eurostar service to Paris and a TGV train onwards.

The round-trip by rail emits around 9kg CO2 per passenger, according to Trainline – compared to 353kg for a return flight, according to Atmosfair’s flight emissions calculator.

Public figures are coming under increasing scrutiny when it comes to transport and their carbon footprints.

In January, foreign secretary Liz Truss was lambasted for flying by private jet to Australia at a cost of over half a million pounds to the taxpayer, rather than using scheduled flights that would have been faster, cheaper and far more efficient in terms of carbon emissions .

The following month, Ms Truss took another publicized trip on a private rather than a commercial flight – this time to a destination accessible within two hours by direct train.

The foreign secretary tweeted a picture of herself alighting the government’s private plane in Brussels, Belgium, alongside the caption: “In Brussels to co-chair a Joint Committee meeting with @MarosSefcovic on the Withdrawal Agreement.”

As social media users were quick to point out, flying for the meeting was arguably not strictly necessary considering a direct train service runs between London and Brussels.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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