DOWNING Street has defended the president of COP26 despite revelations that he travelled to 30 countries in the space of seven months.
Alok Sharma is reported to have flown to several ‘red-list’ countries and not had to self-isolate on return as he has ‘crown servant’ status.
Critics have said the trips show “hypocrisy” on the part of the UK Government, not only due to the lack of quarantine but the impact on the climate of the level of travel Mr Sharma has taken.
Although not all the flights have been returns directly to the UK, Mr Sharma is still estimated to have clocked up thousands of air miles during the trips.
No.10 defended Mr Sharma’s jet-setting, with a spokesman saying he was “leading climate negotiations with countries including major emitters to cut emissions and secure ambitious action ahead of the Cop26 summit.”
He added: “The majority of this work is done remotely but some travel to key countries for face-to-face talks is essential.
“He has secured ambitious action as a result of the discussions he has had. For example, immediately following his visit to Japan and South Korea the governments there committed to ambitious net zero targets, which was a key ask from the UK.”
Mr Sharma is currently on a visit to red-list countries Bolivia and Brazil but is expected not to have to quarantine on his return due to his special status as a crown servant.
The spokesman added: “Ministers conducting essential travel such as this are exempted from quarantine, as set out in the rules.”
Asked if he would quarantine on his return from Brazil, the spokesman said: “He will continue to comply with the rules as set out.”
Alan Brown MP, the SNP’s climate change spokesman, said Mr Sharma should be “setting an example, not exploiting a loophole and flying without a care in the middle of a pandemic and to countries on the red list.”