From his nearly billion-dollar fortune to his lavish designer wardrobe, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has already copped flack for being out of touch with the working class. This week, he has faced more criticism for two half-hour private flights he took on Monday.
Sunak traveled 200 miles from London to Leeds on the RAF’s 14-seat Dassault Falcon 900LX jet, before returning to England’s capital around three hours later. The round-trip is believed to have used approximately 316 gallons of fuel and resulted in about three tons of carbon emissions, as reported by the BBC. The same route via train takes roughly two-and-a-half hours each way and produces the equivalent of 53 pounds of CO2 per person.
Sunak has been accused of undermining the government’s green credentials and wasting taxpayers’ money, as reported by The Guardian. The flight was branded a “show of extravagance” by Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner, while Green MP Caroline Lucas said the prime minister’s use of a plane incurred an “unacceptable cost to both the taxpayer and the climate.”
SNP MP Tommy Sheppard added that Sunak’s use of a jet made “a mockery of his climate pledges.” The UK recently passed a law requiring the government to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. As part of that, ministers announced a “jet zero” program in 2021 to slash emissions across the British aviation industry.
Downing Street defended Sunak’s recent flight, saying: “The transport the prime minister takes will vary and will always be done in the interest of what is the most effective use of his time, enabling him to get around the entirety of the UK when there is a great deal of pressure on his time.” Sunak visited Rutland Lodge medical practice while in Leeds to publicize the government’s plan to buy thousands of extra care home beds.
It’s not just Britain’s leader coming under fire, either. Business magnates and celebrities now have social media accounts broadcasting the activity of their respective private jets.