Rishi Sunak is facing fresh outrage from climate campaigners after it emerged that the prime minister, the King, and foreign secretary David Cameron are taking separate jets to the Cop28 conference in Dubai.
Downing Street confirmed all three of the leading British representatives at the crucial summit – aimed at cutting global emissions – will each get their own private plane.
No 10 defended the decision to have Mr Sunak and Lord Cameron travel separately – as it was confirmed junior ministers and officials would fly out on commercial flights rather than travel with the PM’s entourage.
The prime minister’s official spokesperson claimed that there was nothing wrong with so many flights since the government is “not anti-flying” and is pushing new sustainable fuels.
But opposition parties and activists accused Mr Sunak of climate hypocrisy – criticising the use of separate jets as “setting an awful example” and being a “waste of taxpayers’ cash”.
Mr Sunak’s spokesperson said: “We are not anti-flying. We do not seek to restrict the public from doing so and it’s important the UK has strong attendance at Cop28, given we continue to be a world leader in tackling climate change.”
The No 10 official added: “This government’s approach to tackling climate change, as we have set out repeatedly, is not about banning or reducing people from flying. It is through investing in new technologies of the future, as evidenced by the flight just yesterday using sustainable aviation fuel.”
The Liberal Democrats’ climate spokesperson Wera Hobhouse said the use of separate private jets “is not just a waste of taxpayers’ cash, it sends all the wrong signals about the UK’s climate commitments”.
She added: “The UK should be playing a leading role at Cop28 … instead, this government is slashing net zero targets at home while taking polluting private flights abroad.”