The world’s first commercial aircraft powered partly by biofuel took off from Heathrow yesterday to a storm of criticism from climate change experts, who insisted it was nothing more than Sir Richard Branson’s latest “nonsensical” publicity stunt.
The Virgin Atlantic 747 flew from London to Amsterdam using a 20 per cent biofuel mix of coconut and babassu oil in one of its four main fuel tanks. Sir Richard said the “historic” flight was the first step towards using biofuels on commercial flights.
But campaigners said that carbon savings from bio-fuels, often made from organic materials such as wheat, sugarcane and palm oil, were “negligible”. The World Development Movement said yesterday that even if all flights in the country used biofuels, the reduction in British aviation’s contribution to climate change would be cancelled out by one year’s growth in flights.
Its head of policy, Pete Hardstaff, said: “This is nothing more than a Virgin publicity stunt with dangerous consequences for the planet.”
I couldn’t agree more. The sooner people see through Branson’s greenwashing the better.