MP flies to the end of the earth. Taken from the Croydon Guardian
By Graham Moody
Mp Malcolm Wicks during his trip to Antarctica
Croydon MP and energy minister Malcolm Wicks has been accused of environmental hypocrisy after a five-day trip to a British research station in Antarctica to see the effects of climate change.
Shasha Khan, Croydon Green Party member, questioned why the Croydon North MP had to visit the British Antarctic Survey's Rothera Research Station last week - given that more than four tonnes of carbon dioxide was produced by his 18,216-mile round trip.
Mr Khan said: "Why has he got to fly out to Antarctica to find out how human impact is affecting our planet's climate?
"I am sure modern telecommunications allow the research station to convey their work and findings without the science minister making a five-day trip to Antarctica.
"Our principal speaker, Derek Wall, is invited to many conferences around the world but he refuses to fly to them. He does everything by video conferencing which greatly reduces the production of carbon dioxide. This was a publicity stunt and a waste of time and public money."
Climatecare, a company which helps people off-set their carbon dioxide output, said Mr Wicks' carbon footprint - a trace of how much CO2 was generated by the trip - was more than four tonnes for the return flight. That is more than 800 times the average car driver produces over the same five-day period.
“You just cannot sit in an office all day and find out the importance of things happening in the world, you have to see for yourself."
Malcolm Wicks MP
The Government pays to have carbon emissions from ministerial trips off-set so the environmental impact is reduced.
Mr Wicks said: "I don't need to be lectured by the Green Party on these things. As minister for energy I understand the critical importance of reducing carbon emissions.
"My flights were on planes that were already going and were full of other passengers. The plane taking me from the Falkland Islands to the station was scheduled to take workers out to the base. There was not one leg of my trip that was not already happening.
"You just cannot sit in an office all day and find out the importance of things happening in the world, you have to see for yourself. I learnt a great deal on the trip. The Green Party is just trying to make a cheap local point."
Professor Chris Rapley CBE, British Antarctic Survey Director, said: "It is important that the minister should be fully briefed on the current state of the polar regions and see for himself the work under way."
A spokesman for Mr Wicks' department refused to reveal how many people accompanied the MP on the trip.
Tags croydon, greenparty