Flights taken by Sheffield Council come under scrutiny

Councillors and officers who take flights have come under scrutiny because of the impact it has on the environment.

Monday, 14th October 2019, 2:51 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th October 2019, 3:28 pm
Should Sheffield Council offset flights? (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Sheffield Green Party has criticised the council for not offsetting flights, which allows passengers to pay extra to help compensate for the carbon emissions produced.

Money from offsetting is invested in environmental projects, like planting trees or installing solar panels, which reduce the carbon dioxide in the air by the same amount.

But Labour says the benefits of offsetting are “questionable” and says it wants to look at a more holistic approach to tackling climate change.

The Green Party asked what carbon offsetting has been applied to flights booked by the council to China, and any other trips, since May 2016 and found there was none.

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Green councillor Douglas Johnson said: “This small practical step shows that the council simply doesn’t have any notion of talking the climate crisis in reality. It’s just business as usual. This has to change.”

But Coun Mark Jones, cabinet member for climate change, said the council needed to take a much wider view.

“Offsetting flights is one of the things we can look to do but it’s not as clear cut as it could be.

“You can pay a tax on some flights but that is obviously an added cost and the outcomes and deliverability are somewhat questionable.

“Going forward, we are looking at whether that journey is required as you still extract a lot of oil to go on a flight, even if you then plant some trees.

“We need to have a presence at international events because it’s how we sell the city but trying to mitigate that by just planting trees doesn’t seem to give the benefits that we initially thought.

“I’m looking to push forward a policy about carbon literacy and I’m eager for the council to develop a carbon impact assessment for all decisions.”

The price varies between airlines, but a return flight from London and Cape Town, South Africa would cost roughly £20 to offset, according to ClimateCare.