Should I Really Give Up Flying?

In BBC Two’s Should I Really Give Up Flying?, Patrick Collinson gives the run down on the flying habits of some of Britain’s biggest celebrities and estimates what effect the likes of Simon Cowell and the Beckhams’ globe-trotting could be having on fuel emissions.

He discovers their carbon footprint is a lot bigger than the rest of ours.

Simon Cowell is a big fan of the private jet and has been reported as saying he prefers them because the food and drink is better and he can smoke at 36,000 feet.

His friend and colleague, Sharon Osbourne is another star who can’t resist the lure of the Lear jet. She has borrowed a jet from Simon Cowell and they head up a contingent of stars whose use of private jets has turned London into a world capital of private jets.

The latest accessory is a Versace private jet. For £10million or so, Donatella Versace will fit out private jets for the rich and or famous with her trademark leather sofas, for £100million she will create a Versace-clad 747.

David Beckham is about to head off to LA where his globe trotting will really push up his carbon emissions. Each flight he’s taken from Madrid to London emits over 450kg of carbon. Over a year he’s probably emitting 15,000kg.

Victoria Beckham’s autobiography was called Learning To Fly. During the World Cup, travelling to Germany, her plane was grounded. So at a cost of £21,000 she travelled by private jet. The emissions from that journey would equate to what many people would emit in a year.

Over in the US, Tom Cruise is so disliked by the eco-lobby he has been dubbed “Emissions Impossible”. He is reported to own three private jets – including a recent $20million purchase for wife Katie Holmes.

John Travolta once starred in a movie about bringing industrial polluters to justice. But in real life he has probably got the biggest carbon footprint of any Hollywood star. He parks his personal Boeing 707 on his front lawn – next to his three Gulfstream jets and a Lear jet. Rather appropriately, he has called his home “Jumbolair.”

One celebrity saint is Cameron Diaz who is known for her passion for green issues. She owns a Toyota Prius and on location she offsets all her film and television work. She also fronts a website called Act Green with Gwyneth Paltrow where she promotes the work of the Concerned Scientists Of America.

Michael O’Leary the boss of Ryanair is the public enemy number one for the eco lobby. He says that he is going to increase the carbon emissions from his airline partly by knocking other airlines out of business.

Just this month, Ryanair was described as the “irresponsible face of capitalism” by Ian Pearson, Minister for Climate Change.

But O’Leary says airlines are only responsible for 2% of the world’s carbon emissions – and when it comes to his critics he says “get out of your cars and walk”.

Notes to Editors

Patrick Collinson is the Guardian’s Money Editor.

Should I Really Give Up Flying? looks at whether people’s love affair with flying will end up costing the earth.

In 2005, 229 million people passed through Britain’s airports – it’s estimated that in 15 years time this figure will have doubled. Aviation in the UK is growing at 12% per year – faster than the boom economy in China. In 20 years we will have moved from a total of 15,000 planes world-wide to having 40,000 planes in the air.

Each time we fly, CO2 and other noxious gases are released in to the atmosphere, the aviation industry says they are responsible for 2% of carbon emissions, environmentalists say it could be as much as 6% and that by 2030 if we carry on flying as we are, that figure could be 60%.

Presenters Ginny Buckley and Max Flint will be helping viewers decide whether they should really stop flying.

Should I Really Give Up Flying?, Wednesday 24 January 2007 at 9pm on BBC Two.

  • BBC One
  • BBC Two
  • BBC Three
  • ITV1
  • ITV2
  • 4
  • E4
  • Film4
  • More4
  • Five
  • Fiver
  • Sky1