Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Micheál Martin is under fire for his choice to fly business class from Dublin to New York then warning of the perils of climate change. In an ironic twist, his flight had to divert due to a bird strike.
Irish Taoiseach Criticized For Flying Business Class While Criticizing Others For Bearing No Personal Responsibility In Tackling Climate Change
Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly last week, Martin lectured:
“We convene here at a time of crisis…When we see daily the devastating impacts of climate change, with those who bear no responsibility for its causes being most affected.”
The Irish press, however, noted that he flew business class from Dublin (DUB) to New York (JFK) to make his speech. So did most of his staff.
But of course, Martin claimed he was working:
“I’m working flat out, back to back, 24/7 in terms of working prior to getting on the plane and working after getting on a plane and getting straight to work when I get to the other side.”
He added, “There’s other ways we can offset. So this was within the guidance of this, within the guidance of the department.”
Ironically, his Aer Lingus flight to New York diverted to Dublin after striking a bird off the Irish coast. Later that evening, it departed again for New York. An Aer Lingus spokesperson explained:
“Aer Lingus flight EI107 operating from Dublin to New York JFK this afternoon was required to turn back when the aircraft experienced a bird strike shortly after take-off. The aircraft landed safely at Dublin Airport and all customers and crew safely disembarked. We plan to operate the flight later this evening on a replacement aircraft.”
In his defense, many world leaders flew on government planes to the meeting, emitting even more carbon. He flew commercial. But when politicians or celebrities chide others for their choices and then fly in premium cabins or private jets, it always makes me chuckle. I also wish to (again) draw your attention to this monologue from Bill Maher:
I have no problem with Martin flying business class. Certainly, he can justify it better than most, though I am not sure anyone actually needs to justify it. But his defensive justification proves that somehow, someway we better find an alternative to reducing greenhouse gasses (or their impact) that does not require cutting back personal consumption. Because if the Irish PM is unwilling to do his part, the middle class in Europe and the Americas and China and India won’t either. Do you think Europeans are not going to buy air-conditioners as the summers become unbearably hot? Unlikely.
I have no outrage over the Taoiseach of Ireland flying business class. I also understand his concerns over the environment. But his own actions prove that any meaningful cutbacks are just not realistic. Here’s to hoping technology like carbon capture and things we can only dream of right now might provide a more viable path than lecturing the world over its inability to do enough to curb carbon emissions while flying in business class.