British PM Announces That All Ministers Have to Fly Coach

One of the perks of working as a high level civil servant is getting to fly first class and stay in fancy hotels. However British Prime Minister, David Cameron has different ideas. It is a well known fact that flying first class comes with a steeper carbon footprint. Last year the British Foreign Office had already asked its ambassadors and civil servants to fly economy in an effort to reduce carbon emissions.

Recently David Cameron has requested a larger portion of civil servants and ministers to fly economy. According to the The Guardian,

The move is likely to mean officials have to ensure more flights are taken in economy, and there will be a higher bar to justify business class tickets, though some flights will still be taken in the more expensive cabin. Business class passengers are allocated a greater share of a flight’s CO2 output because they occupy more space.

For the first time, travel by ministers has been taken into account in judging the central government’s greenhouse gas emissions. Travel occupies one of the biggest areas of carbon emissions and consequently climate change and therefore, every effort is being made to cut back.

The ministers have met their goal of cutting emissions from the government’s estate by at least 10% since the beginning of 2010. This is part of the 10:10 campaign backed by the Guardian. It is said that the new announcement solidifies his commitment towards sustainability and he will set a new goal of cutting emissions by 25% over the over the expected five-year term of the current parliament . The new goal is to be known as 25:5.

According to Andy Atkins, director of Friends of the Earth,  “The prime minister promised to lead the greenest government ever – he must now show real leadership by making the fight against climate change one of his top priorities.” The latest announcements involving his own ministry seems to be one of the things that might set him apart from previous administrations.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Akhila is the Founding Director of GreenDen Consultancy which is dedicated to offering business analysis, reporting and marketing solutions powered by sustainability and social responsibility. Based in the US, Europe, and India, the GreenDen's consultants share the best practices and innovation from around the globe to achieve real results. She has previously written about CSR and ethical consumption for Justmeans and hopes to put a fresh spin on things for this column. As an IEMA certified CSR practitioner, she hopes to highlight a new way of doing business. She believes that consumers have the immense power to change 'business as usual' through their choices. She is a Graduate in Molecular Biology from the University of Glasgow, UK and in Environmental Management and Law. In her free-time she is a voracious reader and enjoys photography, yoga, travelling and the great outdoors. She can be contacted via Twitter @aksvi and also

2 responses

  1. It’s great to ask ministers to fly coach as a matter of fiscal responsibility, but the idea this does anything significant to reduce carbon emissions is ridiculous.

    1. not necessarily. If the FCO has been charged with reducing emissions, air travel is likely the largest component of that footprint. First class travel has about 2x the emissions of coach (because the seats take up about 2x the space). If everyone was flying first and they switch to coach, that cuts the travel emissions in half instantly.

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