Offsets no match for flying less, Prince Harry told

File: Britain's Sun newspaper blasted the royal couple as hypocritical "eco-warriors" for flying on private jets despite voicing concerns over the environment and conservation.

File: Britain's Sun newspaper blasted the royal couple as hypocritical "eco-warriors" for flying on private jets despite voicing concerns over the environment and conservation.

Reuters/Chris Jackson

LONDON - Carbon offsetting schemes are no match for taking fewer flights, climate change experts said as Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan flew into a storm over a private jet trip to the south of France.

Pop singer Elton John, who provided the jet, said on social media he had "offset" the couple's carbon emissions as he defended them against claims of hypocrisy over their environmental campaigning.

Offsetting -- which aims to cancel out an action's climate damage by paying to prevent or reduce emissions elsewhere -- can mitigate the effect of emissions, but is no easy solution, said Overseas Development Institute.

"It should really be a last resort ... A lot of it, I think, is people to some extent salving their conscience," Andrew Scott, the head of the think tank's climate and energy programme, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

READ: Elton John blasts relentless character assassination of Harry and Meghan

"When emissions are in the atmosphere, they have a long life there, and it's important to try and do everything you can to stop putting it there in the first place rather than putting it in and paying for somebody to take it out somewhere else."

Recent years have seen a growing anti-flying movement, with some public figures such as student activist Greta Thunberg giving up plane travel altogether, while celebrity environmental campaigners increasingly face scrutiny over their jetsetting.

Earlier this year, actor Emma Thompson was criticised for taking a first-class flight from the United States to Britain, where she took part in protests organised by the campaign group Extinction Rebellion.

Prince Harry and Meghan, who have both spoken out about the need to protect the environment, were "hypocritical" for taking the private jet, said Lucy Gilliam, the aviation and shipping officer at the Transport & Environment campaign group.

Kensington Palace declined to comment.

Source
Reuters