Britain’s climate tsar was accused of hypocrisy last night for flying to at least 30 countries – and not isolating afterward.
Alok Sharma has traveled tens of thousands of miles over the past seven months to prepare the ground for the COP26 global environment summit this autumn.
But despite visiting at least six countries on the travel ‘red list’, he has been given a ministerial exemption from hotel quarantine each time.
He has also been able to avoid having to isolate at home following ‘amber list’ trips.
Ordinary travelers face fines of up to £10,000 for breaking travel quarantine rules.
Days after returning from red-list Bangladesh, the Cabinet minister met Prince Charles indoors without a mask – then visited a primary school.
Mr. Sharma is now in South America where he has visited both Bolivia and Brazil – both red-list states. He has been to at least 30 countries this year.
Mr. Sharma has avoided quarantine under an exemption for ‘Crown servants’. But his critics said it was proof of a ‘one rule for them’ culture for ministers under Boris Johnson.
‘I do understand it’s very good to meet people in person, but this is excessive,’ said Green Party peer Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb. ‘When you’re in charge of COP26, to take this many flights is hypocritical.’
Air travel is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, raising questions over whether Mr. Sharma should have held more ‘virtual’ meetings.
Liberal Democrat transport spokesman Sarah Olney said:
‘As usual with this Government, it’s one rule for them and another for everybody else.
‘While Alok Sharma flies to red-list countries with abandon, hard-working families can hardly see loved ones or plan holidays as the Government changes travel rules on the hoof.
‘People are sick of the Government giving themselves get-out-of-jail-free passes while the rest of us stick to the rules.’ Paul Charles of the PC Agency, a travel consultancy, said ordinary Britons would be angered by the minister’s ability to dodge travel restrictions.
‘I don’t think families will ever forget how they’ve been treated by ministers when it comes to travel,’ he said. ‘It’s astonishing how the Government thinks they are above the law and can create rules for themselves.’
Barrister Adam Wagner, an expert on the complex Covid regulations, told the Mail: ‘The public will make up their own minds as to whether it is fair that there are different rules for ministers than for other people doing essential work abroad.’ …snip…
COP26 is a United Nations climate change conference taking place in Glasgow this October and November. Seen as crucial to tackling global warming, world leaders will meet to try to agree on measures to slash carbon emissions and limit global warming.
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