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My eco-obsessed partner won’t fly — but I want to go to Australia

Kathy Lette on how to reconcile environmental anxiety with wanderlust in a relationship, plus how early is too early to arrive at the airport

The Sunday Times

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Narrated by Kathy Lette

Q. My partner has given up on flying because he’s so worried about the climate crisis and carbon emissions and is even donating money to Just Stop Oil. I’m not ready to quit jumping on a plane and his stance is drastically limiting where we can go on holiday. Last year we got the train to Venice and it took days. He loves rail travel, but I find it draining and really struggle to sleep on overnight trains — what should have been a nice city break left me tired and cantankerous. I work full time (I’m in my late forties) and don’t have endless amounts of annual leave to tramp across Europe. I’m desperate to get to Australia for the first time next year, but he has put the kibosh on that idea. I know he’s right — I understand the arguments against flying — but I still have parts of the world I want to see. Can I reconcile this?

A. When it comes to climate change I could win gold in the hypocrisy Olympics. Last summer, as the rivers ran dry, I cursed the ruthless rich who selfishly zip around the globe in private jets to lounge on gas-guzzling super-yachts. Don’t they care about the yeti-sized carbon footprints they’re stomping on to poor planet Earth? Then a girlfriend asked me to accompany her on a private jet to Ibiza to spend a few days on her pal’s yacht. “Yes!” I squealed instantly. We wore plastic tiaras in the limo and glugged champagne for the duration of the flight, and I didn’t feel a twinge of guilt — not even aboard HMS Hedonism as minions peeled me grapes.

I know, my double standards are appalling. But the world is divided into two groups — the haves and the have-yachts — and I was desperate to see how the monied half live. (They say that money doesn’t buy happiness, but I think we could learn to love the kind of misery it can acquire!)

Once back to real life, though, my guilt gland throbbed. Your eco-warrior partner is right to be worried; even in Iceland the chickens are laying hard boiled eggs — welcome to Reykjavik, the new Costa del Sol. I am tapping out these thoughts while up to my neck in a swimming pool in Sydney — it gives a very literal meaning to the term “typing pool”, but is the only way to survive the scorching heatwave.

Qantas will start direct flights between London and Sydney in 2025
Qantas will start direct flights between London and Sydney in 2025

Yet don’t let this put you off your planned trip down under. Australia is home to the world’s most exotic creatures — Dame Edna and Kylie were born here, after all. Plus tourism helps to save environments; the more people visit a place for its natural beauty, the more interest governments have in preserving it.


Yes, your carbon footprint is important, but what about your own chemistry? Restore marital harmony with a deal — you’ll take the sleeper train to Venice (you can always join the foot-high club) if he’ll fly with you occasionally? Look for carbon-offsetting schemes verified by the Gold Standard Foundation, ranging from buying eco-friendly cooking stoves in Peru to responsible reforestation in Nicaragua (goldstandard.org).

If that doesn’t work, another way to lower your partner’s temperature about climate change would be to surreptitiously switch his thermometer from fahrenheit to celsius. Or maybe just explain that all your hot-air arguing about flying will merely rip another hole in the ozone layer.

Make it happen

Planes use most fuel during take-off and landing, so avoiding a stopover is one way to trim your carbon emissions. The good news is that from late next year Qantas will be flying directly from London to Sydney, in addition to its nonstop service to Perth. Speak to a specialist operator such as Audley Travel, which can tailor an itinerary to include eco-friendly elements such as train journeys, walking and bike tours in cities and indigenous experiences with trained guides; 25 nights’ B&B from £7,240pp (audleytravel.com).

I’m married to an airport time-waster

Q. My husband is one of those people who insists on getting to the airport hours before take-off — we usually arrive at least an hour before bag drop opens. Over the years I’ve wasted days at Gatwick — he loves the ritual of getting a Pret coffee, visiting WH Smith and a bare-minimum 90 minutes of sitting in the Wetherspoons with a pint. Any suggestions? I’m concerned that it’s a sign we might be fundamentally incompatible, even after 15 years.

A. No woman likes a man who is premature. Some of my exes were so premature that I wasn’t even in the room. (Then I had to worry who he’d been fantasising about. How could he let Margaret Thatcher into our bedroom?). But the one time I do like a man to arrive early is when I’m catching a flight with him. Is there anything more stressful than running late for a plane? This disagreement is no reason to worry about your marriage. Why not dump hubby at Spoons and treat yourself to access from No 1 Lounges (from £30; no1lounges.com). Or embrace two of the loveliest words in the English language: “duty” and “free”. For whom does the till toll? It tolls for thee. Some people like to up their step count before a flight, but I suggest you simply partake in my favourite airport exercise regime — running up bills.

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