BBC Admits Flying Journalist to Interview Greta Thunberg Despite ‘Flight Shame’

Swedish environment activist Greta Thunberg gives a speech at the plenary session during the COP25 Climate Conference on December 11, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. The COP25 conference brings together world leaders, climate activists, NGOs, indigenous people and others for two weeks in an effort to focus global policy makers on …
Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has confessed that it flew one of its reporters to Sweden to interview climate activist Greta Thunberg and admitted it “felt awkward” given the teen’s refusal to fly because it causes pollution.

The Refinery29 website reported on the BBC’s statement about its decision in light of Thunberg sailing from Europe to the United States in a solar-powered sailboat to participate in climate change demonstrations without leaving a “carbon footprint.” According to Refinery29:

Thunberg, who recently became the youngest ever recipient of TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year accolade, has helped to spread awareness of “flygskam” – or flight shame – by giving up air travel in favour of more environmentally-friendly forms of transport.

However, the BBC decided that eschewing air travel wasn’t an option when presenter Mishal Husain was dispatched to Sweden to interview Thunberg for Radio 4’s Today programme. The 16-year-old climate change campaigner is guest editing a special episode of the programme which airs on Monday, 30th December.

“We did discuss that among ourselves,” the program’s editor Sarah Sands told the Sunday Times. “It felt awkward but we did not have the time for trains or boats.”

Refinery29 reported that the BBC reporter’s flight “caused no friction between Thunberg and the BBC.”

 “Greta is not actually judgmental towards individuals, accepting that other people will not all conform to her high standards and asking only for people to do what they can,” Sands said.

Refinery29 recently published a story featuring women who said they have given up flying because of climate change, with each only providing their first name and city of residence.

Mikaela, 21, who lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, said she might fly again because she has family in Jamaica but not anytime soon.

“I have been a vegan for five years and I’m trying to live a really low-impact lifestyle,” she said.

Roberta, 26, of London said she believes the United Nation’s when it claims 140 million people in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America will be displaced by 2050, “due to climate breakdown.”

“I hate the thought of never been able to visit any countries that have been on my list for a long time,” she said. “But I can say I probably won’t ever feel comfortable with flying to Europe again.”

Maria, 37, who lives in Spain, said her family flies to visit her, but she and her husband have given it up.

“We can’t go to my husband’s friend’s wedding at the end of next year because it’s in Mexico,” she said. “We told them we don’t fly any more.”

Londiwe, 26, who lives in London, told Refinery29 why she gave up flying.

“The growing awareness I have about how it is affecting our planet,” she said. “I haven’t bought into fast fashion for several years, making conscious food choices when I can.”

“I decided not to drive to reduce my carbon footprint but I didn’t realize that all of this essentially is pointless if it’s not being applied to such detrimental choices like flying that are truly costing us our planet,” she said. 

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