Liz Truss made the surprising claim that the number of plane journeys we take is not the answer to reducing CO2 emissions on Monday – despite flying being one of the worst activities for the climate.
Pressed on the announcement from last week that air passenger duty would be cut for domestic flights, Truss said: “This is all about connectivity across the United Kingdom and making it easier for people to travel.
“But the way to reduce climate emissions from flying isn’t to stop flying – it’s to create the new generation of next technology, which we’re doing.
“Whether that’s using hydrogen, whether it’s using electric power to power trains, that is the way of the future.”
She also said that becoming greener as a nation meant making environmentally-friendly decisions “more affordable” for everyone.
Truss explained: “We’re looking to do a Jet Zero plane, so that we can achieve our goals for the climate but carry on travelling at the same time.”
Yet not everyone was convinced by the decision to cut air passenger duty announced last week.
Discussing the new policy on Sunday, environmentalist Greta Thunberg told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “I mean, of course we can’t talk about this in one single policy, but when you see a pattern of these policies which all the time are avoiding taking real action, then I think you can draw conclusions from that pattern, that, ‘climate change is not really our main priority right now’.”
Flying by plane is considered one of the most harmful activities for the planet, so the reduction in air passenger duty was widely condemned when it was announced in the budget last week.
Yet, chancellor Rishi Sunak defended the move and claimed that flying only accounts for a “tiny part of our emissions”.
He told BBC Breakfast: “So, yes, we’re doing this to support domestic aviation, and regional airports will benefit from this, but we are also introducing a brand new band for ultra long-haul travel.
“Those who fly the furthest will pay the highest rates of APD, that’s consistent with our environmental objectives, that’s a new band that will come into force, and, actually, yesterday the independent watchdog said that our plans in the round will reduce carbon emission and move us further along the path to net zero.”
Ye, COP26 itself has come under fire as delegations from 120 countries around the world have flown into the UK for the occasion.
Truss defended this decision on BBC Breakfast on Monday as well, explaining “it’s really important that we do have people face to face” when it comes to getting serious climate pledges from world leaders.
Hundreds also opted to take last minute short hand domestic flights the night before the pivotal summit on Sunday after major disruption to train lines.