Don't mention the science

Some politicians and commentators have been trying to paint the fight against unsustainable aviation as an attack on working people.

Last week it was Tony Blair and Labour party chair, Hazel Blears. Not everyone would consider these standard bearers for New Labour to be the authentic voice of the oppressed working class. However, their credibility rocketed since they were joined by the shadow chancellor, George Osborne. He told the Guardian:

"For British people who are for the first time able to afford a foreign holiday, I don't think telling them not to fly is the answer."

The argument is so weak it reminded me of when well-spoken Countryside Alliance supporters said that their opposition to the hunting ban stemmed from their overriding concern for the village ratting industry.

You might think from their previous dramatic statements on climate change that our political leaders would be paying heed to the reccomendations of our top climatologists - although if you really are that naive then there's a very cheap carbon offset scheme I'd like to discuss with you. No, the truth is still inconvenient, and so is dismissed as some sort of bizarre snobbery from the people who hate freedom.

Dr. Brenda Boardman of Oxford University's Environmental Change Institute, for instance. She said:

"The government has to confront the contradictions in its policies. Unless the rate in flights is curbed, the UK cannot fulfil its commitments on climate change. If government wants to be confident about achieving its targets, it has to undertake demand management."

So is she saying this because it represents a scientific truth? Or is it a cunning ploy to ensure she doesnt have to sit next to a 'chav' on her next flight to Barcelona? Then there's Dr. Kevin Anderson from the University of Manchester's Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research who has also warned, "If the UK does not curb aviation growth, all other sectors of the economy will be forced to become carbon neutral." Presumably another one sick of the sight of Burberry.

The reality of course is that the rapid and climate-wrecking growth in flying has very little to do with the least well off and everything to do with the priviliged protecting their luxuries. The statistics from the Civil Aviation Authority show that around 51% of the population don't set foot on a plane each year anyway, and according to the the IPPR 75% of flights each year are taken by the most well off in social groups A, B and C.

But perhaps the most ironic part of Mr Osborne's position is the fact that he should have made such a claim whilst visiting Uganda - one of the countries that will be hardest hit by what the World Development Movement and Christian Aid predict will become a "climatic genocide" and where virtually none of the population will ever experience the opportunity to fly.

Afraid of giving up their own breaks in Tuscany, our politicians are ignoring their most prestigious scientists. Fortunately the public hold themselves to a higher standard. A recent MORI poll showed that 70% of us would support higher taxes on aviation if the money went to improve the environment. Another poll of Sun readers showed 63% said they'd be willing to give up a foreign holiday to help save the planet.

It's hardly surprising that Britons are choosing to trust our scientific experts and nor our scientifically illiterate politicians and provides yet more proof that it's up to us to lead our leaders, and take action ourselves.