The Countryside Alliance has obtained figures from the University of Cambridge which reveal they have spent a whopping £13,431,166.66 on flights, which has amounted to 17,545 flights since 2016, roughly the time since the ban was introduced.
The information was obtained by an FOI request, submitted on 17th September 2019.
The figures reveal that thousands of flights have been purchased by the University of Cambridge for University staff to and from numerous domestic and international locations including Hawaii, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sydney, Saint Vincent, Sao Paulo, Brussels and London.
A breakdown of the flights shows University staff flying to a wide range of destinations that are not always associated with academic work in including: Zante, Paphos, Orlando, Honolulu, Aspen and Malaga.
Over 250 flights were to cities easily reachable by train from Cambridge or London, including Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Brussels and Paris.
The revelations come after the University celebrated last month their reduction in carbon emissions since removing red meat from its menus at outlets and events in 2016. It has since replaced these items with plant-based food products and other meats.
Speaking in September 2019, Prof. Andrew Balmford a professor of Conservation Science, said the University had “dramatically reduced their environmental footprint”. He went on to say "It is hard to imagine any other interventions that could yield such dramatic benefits in so short span of time." A bold claim and one the Countryside Alliance felt obliged to investigate.
The university said the ban had saved 500 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, but that is less than a tenth of its carbon footprint from flying.
A group of over 20 livestock have signed a letter organised by the Countryside Alliance. The letter from CA Chief Executive, Tim Bonner, states: The university is “open to the charge of hypocrisy as it promotes what it clearly intended to be an eye-catching policy whilst continuing to contribute massively to CO2 emissions created by the airline industry”.
It adds: “By sourcing grass fed, locally sourced beef and lamb, and reviewing your airline flight policy the University could have a far greater impact on reducing carbon emissions, whilst supporting British livestock farmers across the country.”
The Countryside Alliance has been critical of the controversial decision since it came into force. The list of signatories to the letter, which has been sent to the Vice Chancellor, include Cambridgeshire farmer Judith Jacobs, who has a beef herd and 100 sheep at her farm near Peterborough, Joe Stanley, who has 150 longhorn cattle near Loughborough, Leicestershire and Gareth Wyn Jones who 4000 ewes and 350 head cattle at his farm in Llanfairfechan, Wales.
Speaking in response to the accusation, a University spokesman told The Times: “We are developing an internal offsetting scheme to help mitigate the impact of our air travel and measures to reduce the need for, and impact of, the travel undertaken by our staff.”
Top 11 most frequent flights by destination paid for by the University of Cambridge from January 2016-August 2019 (or as close to September 2019)