Bristol’s Labour mayor Marvin Rees made the 9,000-mile round trip to give a 14-minute speech at a conference in Vancouver last month
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Bristol Mayor who declared ‘climate emergency’ flies 9,000 miles to Canada to lecture on the importance of cutting carbon emissions

  • Bristol’s mayor Marvin Rees made a 9,000-mile trip to give a speech last month. 
  • Declaring a ‘climate emergency’ in 2018, he wanted Bristol to be carbon neutral 
  • He told Canada that city mayors were ‘stepping up and taking action’ on climate
  • His trip created two tons of carbon dioxide per passenger or 7,000 miles in a car

 The first city mayor in Britain to declare a ‘climate emergency’ has come under fire for flying nine hours to Canada to tell other local leaders how to cut emissions.

Bristol’s Labour mayor Marvin Rees made the 9,000-mile round trip to give a 14-minute speech at a conference in Vancouver last month.

Climate campaigners blasted Mr Rees over his long-haul flight, with one critic complaining on social media: ‘Why didn’t he do it virtually?’

Mr Rees told the audience in Canada that city mayors were ‘stepping up and taking action’ and ‘leading beyond their authority’ on cutting carbon emissions.

He also said he wanted to ‘show off about my own city,’ and boasted about the measures that had been taken in Bristol to reduce emissions. Declaring a ‘climate emergency’ in 2018, he set a goal for the city to become carbon neutral by 2030, including cutting ‘indirect emissions’ such as international travel.

Bristol’s Labour mayor Marvin Rees made the 9,000-mile round trip to give a 14-minute speech at a conference in Vancouver last month

Bristol’s Labour mayor Marvin Rees made the 9,000-mile round trip to give a 14-minute speech at a conference in Vancouver last month

But climate campaigners Flight Free UK worked out that his trip created two tons of carbon dioxide per passenger, rendering it ‘at odds’ with the environmentally friendly message he delivered in his talk. Two tons is about the same amount of carbon dioxide an average car would generate if driven for 7,000 miles.

The group’s director Anna Hughes said: ‘Bristol was the first place in the UK to declare a climate emergency, yet the mayor is acting completely at odds with this declaration.

‘Faced with such a precarious climate situation, we need our leaders to demonstrate the kind of action we should all be taking, not flying to another continent to speak, ironically, about the climate emergency.

Map showing the Bristol Mayor's trip to Vancouver, Canada

Map showing the Bristol Mayor’s trip to Vancouver, Canada

‘Actions always speak louder than words, and in this post-pandemic age of online interactions it would have been a much more powerful and effective statement to appear on screen.’

Mr Rees’ speech was delivered just a month before Bristol residents voted in a referendum to abolish his job – but he will remain in post until 2024.

Mr Rees faced criticism earlier this year for failing to act quicker over the statue of slave trader Edward Colston before it was pulled down by a mob during a Black Lives Matter protest.

The mayor’s office yesterday said that Mr Rees had a ‘full agenda’ in Vancouver and that it was ‘the duty of city leaders to come together, lobby for change and influence each other to make a collective impact’.

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