The Green Party’s Caroline Lucas today admitted that she takes long haul flights to America to visit family as she said focusing on ‘individual behaviour’ on climate change lets big companies ‘off the hook’.
Ms Lucas said that while it is ‘important’ for individuals to modify their behaviour to tackle the issue, the main focus must be on changing a ‘deeply imperfect system’.
Her comments came after the Green Party launched its general election campaign last week with a pledge to spend £100 billion a year on tackling climate change.
Ms Lucas has been one of the most vocal campaigners in the House of Commons in recent years urging the government to do much more to address climate change and her latest remarks are likely to risk accusations of hypocrisy.
She was asked on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show this morning when the last time was that she flew and she paused before replying: ‘My son lives in the United States and so I do fly, not often, but occasionally I do.’
She then insisted that people should not be ‘sitting in judgement on each other’.
Caroline Lucas, pictured on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show today, said focusing on ‘individual behaviour’ on climate change lets big companies ‘off the hook’
‘We all try to make the changes that we can but do you know what, I think sometimes a focus on individual behaviour, important though that is, lets the big fossil fuel companies off the hook, it lets those in power off the hook,’ she said.
‘What we need here is systems change. It is incredibly easy to pit one person’s behaviour against another person’s behaviour and say “you are not good enough”.
‘We are all trying to do our best in a deeply imperfect system and so what we need to be doing I think is focusing on changing that system.
‘Why, for example, is it so much more expensive to take the train from the UK to other parts of Europe than it is to fly?
‘There is no reason for that it is because we have chosen not to tax aviation fuel and VAT on aviation and instead we do when it comes to railways.
‘Let’s change those price signals to make it easier for people to do the right thing rather than sitting in judgement on each other saying that we are not doing enough.’
Ms Lucas was the Green Party’s only MP after the 2017 general election and she is standing again on December 12 in the Brighton Pavilion seat she has held since 2010.
The party launched its general election campaign at an event in Bristol last week with a so-called ‘Green New Deal’ set out as its main offer to voters.
The Greens want to make the UK carbon neutral by 2030 with Labour having made a similar pledge while the Tories have committed to a 2050 target.
Hitting the 2030 target would come with a massive price tag. The Greens want to spend £100 billion a year on cleaner transport and ‘retrofitting’ homes with better insulation.
While £91 billion of the cash would be borrowed, the remaining £9 billion would come from putting up corporation tax by five per cent from the current level of 19 per cent to 24 per cent.