Richard Roberts

Piano Tuner and Restorer - London
Richard Roberts

I’m a piano tuner living in London, England. My carbon footprint is approximately 2 tonnes per year. I take about one long-haul return flight every two years. I never take short-haul flights – I use rail or road, bicycle or a combination instead. My last two return flights I packed my dismantled bicycle into a bag and reassembled it in Buenos Aires to ride out of the airport to my grandma’s house.

She was 96 years old and I wanted to see her again before she passed away. My point is that I will fly if I feel it’s for a really important reason and the alternative transport takes weeks at a prohibitive cost. It has now been four years since my last flight but if my brother who lives in Texas gets married this autumn I will fly to his wedding.

I volunteer with grassroots networks that organise direct action for climate justice – causing logistical difficulties for companies that are trying to expand their airports, dig new open-cast coal mines, and spearhead the fracking industry in the UK. Some of my comrades refuse to fly, ever.

But this is how I see it… 65 million people in the UK, but only perhaps 10,000 people radical enough to reduce their carbon footprint to near-zero. Per capita UK emissions are about 10 tonnes CO2e per year (plus several more in indirect emission from imported goods, lets roll with 10 for the purpose of this argument). By living a near-zero carbon lifestyle the 10k radicals are saving 10k/yr emissions, but their lifestyle is so far removed from the mainstream that most other people see it as impossible. In contrast if all UK citizens were encouraged to make reasonable concessions to halve their footprint that’s 325 million tonnes CO2e per year emissions saved!

Volunteer with Reclaim the Power, a UK-based grassroots direct action network for environmental and social justice. I’m taking action to prevent the gas and oil fracking industry from taking off in the UK, and also to see more justice in aviation.

The British fly more than anyone else in the world, and 70% of all flights are taken by 15% of the population – the frequent flyers. They are currently rewarded and I want to campaign for them to be penalised. To scrap passenger duty and replace it with a Frequent Flyers Levy – one tax-free flight per years but each additional flight is taxed more.