THE leader of the city's Green council has apologised for a "major failure of judgement" after being caught flying to a climate change conference.

Councillor Phelim Mac Cafferty took a plane from London to Glasgow to attend COP26 on the same day he criticised the government for a "lack of action" over climate change.

After completing the 460-mile journey, Cllr Mac Cafferty made a speech on cutting carbon emissions and appeared at a protest march, led by Greta Thunberg, calling for world leaders to stop temperatures rising.

The politician, who co-chairs Brighton and Hove City Council’s carbon neutral working group, yesterday admitted the blunder after The Argus questioned how he travelled to Scotland.

Cllr Mac Cafferty, leader of the city’s Green Party, unreservedly apologised for taking flight for around 1 hour 20 minutes - saying he had been worried his train might be cancelled.

He told The Argus: "In the Friday evening just gone, I took a flight from London to Glasgow to attend COP26 where I had been invited to represent the city at a presentation of the Glasgow Declaration on Saturday morning.

“This decision to fly was a major failure of my judgement which goes against my political group’s pledges and principles and I unreservedly apologise.”

The blunder comes just days after Cllr Mac Cafferty claimed in his weekly Argus column that Brighton and Hove was "leading the way on climate and social action".

Green MP Caroline Lucas was also in Glasgow for the conference but confirmed to The Argus that she had travelled by train.

Cllr Mac Cafferty said he had been “concerned about the unreliability of the rail network” which previously left people struggling to get to COP26.

At the end of last month, operators from the east and west coast mainlines advised against people travelling from London to Glasgow amid stormy weather across the UK.

Cllr Mac Cafferty added: “I reluctantly took this very difficult decision because I was concerned about the unreliability of the rail network following the well-publicised difficulties experienced by many people wanting to travel by train to Glasgow the week before, when trains were cancelled.

“I was concerned that this would happen again and I felt it was important not to miss the opportunity to attend the important presentation on behalf of the city, lobby world leaders and share with others the innovative work taking place in Brighton and Hove.

“I paid for my own transport and all associated costs. I am not getting paid for any of the speeches I am making or meetings I am attending and I am otherwise working from Glasgow.

“Transport contributes a large portion of carbon emissions, all significant journeys we make have an effect on our climate. I will be offsetting the carbon cost of my journey.

“I will be taking my return journey on train. Again, I apologise unreservedly.”

At the general election in 2019, the Green Party pledged to "revolutionise our transport system by ending dependence on carbon".

In its manifesto, the party also promised to discourage excessive flying, ban advertising for flights and stop the building of new runways.

While Cllr Mac Cafferty, who has been leader of the city’s ruling administration since July 2020, has previously been outspoken on environmental issues.

In his most recent Argus column, published on Friday November 5, he said: "With all eyes on the world’s climate conference happening in Glasgow, there is hope – but also concern – that world leaders will fail to take the bold action needed to truly avert the climate crisis…

"We need world leaders to act and to unlock the resources our communities need to prevent the worst of climate chaos. Despite a lack of action from national government, councils like ours are leading the way – including in areas that have been shamefully left out of the bigger climate conversation."

On Saturday, Cllr Mac Cafferty spoke at a presentation of the Glasgow Food and Climate Declaration – which was officially presented by 100 local governments including Brighton and Hove City Council.

During the event, he talked about the importance of capping carbon emissions from food and farming.

The Argus: Thousands took to the streets over the weekend Thousands took to the streets over the weekend

Cllr Mac Cafferty also took to the streets alongside thousands of protesters demanding stronger climate action from leaders at the COP26 talks.

Protesters braved pouring rain and wind to march through Glasgow, with Cllr Mac Cafferty sharing photographs on Twitter from the demonstration.

Similar marches also took place in London as well as in Brighton, where hundreds of protesters marched through the city carrying Extinction Rebellion placards.

On Saturday, climate protesters also targeted airports, including Glasgow and Gatwick.

At the time, Ray Stewart from the campaign group Stay Grounded UK said: “We demand that immediate action is taken to prevent any expansion of flying and associated emissions growth.

“Just one return flight from London to New York emits as much greenhouse gas as the average UK household does in a whole year.”

Yesterday, The Green Party experienced a national polling boost amid the ongoing controversy around allegations of Tory sleaze.

The Conservatives lost their lead in the polls for the first time in months, according to the Ipsos MORI survey for The Evening Standard.

The survey, conducted from October 29 to November 4, saw no change in the voting intention for the Labour Party from the poll conducted from September 17 to 23 at 36 percent.

The Green Party saw the largest rise between the previous and latest surveys of five percentage points - climbing to 11 percent according to the poll of 1,007 British adults.