Environment Secretary Therese Coffey speaking during the National Farmers

Environment Secretary Therese Coffey has been criticised for racking up air miles by taking five foreign trips in five months – even jetting off to speak about sustainability.

Dr Coffey, whose department discourages staff from flying because of the effect it has on the environment, has covered nearly 40,000 miles since taking office in October last year.

She visited international events including the inauguration of President Lula da Silva in Brazil, attending the COP27 climate-change summit in Egypt, the COP15 biodiversity summit in Canada and agricultural trade talks in Washington DC. 

During her short time in the role she has made more foreign trips than the previous four Environment Secretaries put together.

Her most recent trip was to the Our Ocean conference in Panama this month, where she spoke about ocean conservation and sustainability in fishing.

Environment Secretary Therese Coffey speaking during the National Farmers' Union Conference at the ICC

Environment Secretary Therese Coffey speaking during the National Farmers' Union Conference at the ICC

Environment Secretary Therese Coffey speaking during the National Farmers’ Union Conference at the ICC

Critics have condemned her actions while Britain faces environmental crises, including fruit and vegetable shortages and sewage dumping in rivers.

The greenhouse gas impact of her flights is estimated to be the equivalent of around 19 tons of carbon dioxide. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is currently 24 per cent behind its official target for reducing its greenhouse gas emissions – worse than any other Government department.

Jim McMahon, Labour’s shadow Environment Secretary, said: ‘At a time when the UK suffers from food shortages, Therese Coffey should be here doing her duty to get Britain fed, not passing through Duty Free.’

Defra said: ‘Part of the Secretary of State’s job is to represent the UK on vital international issues, such as protecting nature, addressing climate change and ensuring our food security.’

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