Flying abroad for a foreign holiday is “a sin” against the planet, one of the country’s leading bishops has declared.
Like murder, adultery and stealing, choosing to travel on jet planes has moral consequences, according to the Bishop of London because flights are doing too much damage to the environment.
In a highly controversial statement, Richard Chartres, 59 – who admits to regular visits to Russia – urged Christians to stop taking endless flights and to live a more ‘eco-friendly’ lifestyle.
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He said: “There is now an overriding imperative to walk more lightly upon the earth and we need to make our lifestyle decisions in that light.
“Making selfish choices such as flying on holiday or buying a large car are a symptom of sin.
“Sin is not just a restricted list of moral mistakes. It is living a life turned in on itself where people ignore the consequences of their actions.”
But the timing of his remarks means that millions of people who need to listen to his message will not be around to hear it.
An estimated 2.1 million holidaymakers crowded into Britain’s airports at the weekend at the start of the school summer holidays.
They will be followed by millions more over the next few weeks as Britons’ love of holidays abroad continues to boom.
Figures show we are taking more holidays than ever, with the total up 6.9 million last year to 66.3 million.
No political party would dare to say anything as outspoken as the bishop for fear of losing all support among their holiday-loving voters.
Resorts such as Blackpool, Brighton and the Cornish coast are still hugely popular, but millions of people will only settle for a foreign escape.
But a family of four flying to Spain comes at a price for the environment, as well as the cost of the trip.
Church keen to be green
Their return flight from Heathrow to Malaga in Spain will produce about two tonnes of carbon dioxide, according to the Carbon Neutral Company.
To soak up its carbon emissions, the family would need to spend an extra £17.30 to plant trees to ‘neutralise’ their emissions.
For a return trip to Florida – one of the most popular destinations for British tourists – this rises to 6.4 tonnes.
The bishop’s remarks come at a time when the Church of England is desperately trying to convince people to be green.
It is about to publish a booklet about the environment called Treasures on Earth and has set up ‘The 40 per cent Church of England’ campaign.
This aims to slash the church’s carbon emissions – a major contributor to climate change – to 40 per of current levels by 2050.
Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury who drives the eco-car, Toyota Prius, is also banging the green drum.
He has said: “We are not consumers of what God has made. We are in communion with it.”
Last month, all parish churches were told to carry out an audit of current energy use in a bid to cut their usage.
The Bishop of London, who is married with four children, heads the church’s ‘Shrinking the Footprint’ campaign.
The Church of England was unable to say whether the bishop ever flies abroad or the type of car that he drives.
The bishop, who also attacked people who drive big cars, was dismissed by a motoring group chief.
Edmund King, executive director of the RAC Foundation, said: “You cannot just point the finger in that way.
“Some people have larger cars for perfectly legitimate reasons so I don’t think morality comes into it.
“Yes, climate change is a problem but we need an overall strategy to tackle it.
“This is rather a knee-jerk reaction from the Church. Maybe they should stick to what they know best.”