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Labour climate campaigner racks up thousands of air miles

Mete Coban pictured with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan
Mete Coban pictured with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan - Instagram

A Labour councillor has been accused of hypocrisy after clocking up an estimated 40,000 air miles since taking on a climate change role.

Mete Coban, who as Hackney’s cabinet member for climate change, environment and transport, has been the face of a £61 million fund for protecting the environment and reducing emissions, has told social media followers that “if we all take action we’ll have cleaner air”, and that the council must ensure it “leads by example”. He has championed low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs), walking and cycling.

In March this year, he warned that “the way we travel” can “have a huge impact on the climate”. In the months that followed, he travelled to Istanbul, Guatemala, Miami and Washington, DC.

Analysis by The Telegraph suggests that he could have racked up approximately 40,000 air miles (equivalent to about 17 tonnes of CO2) since his appointment in 2021.

In posts on his Instagram account, followed by 50,000 people, Mr Coban has kept followers abreast of his travels and of his efforts toward saving the environment, writing: “Tackling the climate crisis starts locally” and “we will continue to do everything in our power to reduce toxic pollution and protect the lungs of our children”.

Mr Coban keeps followers abreast of his travels on social media
Mr Coban keeps followers abreast of his travels on social media - Instagram

However in other posts, he boasts of a “cheeky weekend in Miami”, featuring a photograph of a car, as well as himself about to drive a race car in Dubai.

In January this year, Mr Coban said it was time for Hackney citizens to “redouble [their] efforts” in fighting climate change, before heading off for a “cheeky trip to Malta”. Days later he photographed himself in Paris and posted about the importance of reducing “Hackney borough’s impact on climate change”.

The mileage estimate is based on flights from London to the destinations Mr Coban posts about, taking account of trips within the same continent.

Neil Garratt AM, leader of City Hall Conservatives, said: “Londoners will be exasperated to read of high-carbon Coban, the latest recruit to Labour’s red-faced ranks of climate hypocrites. His pious lectures on clean air, climate, and how we must all change the way we travel ring hollow when delivered from a lay-over on his jet-set tour of the Americas.

“I hope he had a lovely time, but I hope too that he uses his time away to reflect on why he thinks his travel is so special. Londoners will suspect that if long-haul travel is okay for air-miles Mete, it’s alright for them too.”

Mr Coban, who became Hackney’s youngest councillor in 2016, and is on £39,015.33 basic salary (per year) as a cabinet member, runs the charity My Life My Say, which has partners that include the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change and Google, and has set up global “democracy cafes”. He is former director of six other companies, five of which are now dissolved.

Mr Coban became Hackney’s youngest councillor in 2016
Mr Coban became Hackney’s youngest councillor in 2016 - Instagram

Mr Coban said: “The majority of the flights relate to my role as the chief executive of a youth-led charity, and I make no apology for my advocacy on behalf of young people at some of the highest levels of decision-making, including at the United Nations and the White House.

“I take a keen interest in how we can change the world for the better, and as such, I am invited to conferences and events around the world where I can learn and exchange best practices to take action on global issues.

“I’m proud of the responsibilities that come with my roles, and travelling is an essential part of fulfilling my duties.”

He added that Miami was a stop-off on the way back from Guatemala, as there was no available direct flight, and that trips to Paris and Glasgow were by rail.

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