WATCH: Prince Harry and celebs criticised for jetting in to climate change conference
Europe / 3 August 2019, 08:30am / Rebecca English, Vanessa Allen and Jim Norton
London - Prince Harry faced a storm of controversy after he and a host of A-list celebrities attended a climate change conference where dozens of private jets, helicopters and super yachts were used to ferry in guests.
The Duke of Sussex was reportedly flown-in by private jet to Sicily by Google, which organised the secret Mediterranean summit for the rich and famous.
Critics questioned why they had used transport with massive carbon footprints to arrive at a climate change event.
Italian media reported that 114 private jets were scheduled to land in Palermo during the summit, although it was not clear if they were all chartered for guests – dubbed the ‘Greenerati’ – at the so-called Google Camp.
Harry was said to have delivered an impassioned speech – barefoot – about the environment and humanitarianism, although Buckingham Palace refused to confirm or deny whether he was among the attendees.
Sources said Google laid on a private jet to take him to Sicily and a helicopter to ferry him from the airport at Palermo to the luxury resort of Verdura on the island’s south coast. Google did not respond to requests for comment.
When pressed whether Harry had flown commercial or private the CEO of Palermo airport Giovanni Scalia said: "Being royalty you can guess which."
If Harry did travel by private jet with five passengers aboard, rather than taking a commercial flight, it would have created around ten times more carbon emissions – putting around three tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.
The prince would need to plant 190 trees in order to offset his one-way flight to Palermo, environmental group Trees For The Future said.
Meanwhile Kensington Palace immediately denied reports that Prince William or his wife Kate had attended the annual event for the world’s elite - which is dubbed "Davos-on-Sea" because its guest list of power-brokers and the elite echoes that of the World Economic Forum.
Harry has warned about the "terrifying" effects of climate change on the world when he revealed this week that he and wife Meghan had decided to limit their family to two children.
Guests in Sicily included singer Katy Perry, who has appeared in Unicef films about combating climate change. She arrived with fiance Orlando Bloom on board a £330-million super yacht owned by Hollywood mogul David Geffen. She was reported to have been spotted in a Maserati SUV.
Other guests were reported to include Leonardo DiCaprio, who runs his own environmental foundation, supermodel Naomi Campbell, fashion designer Stella McCartney and singer Harry Styles. BBC presenter Andrew Neil used Twitter to pour scorn on the "plutocracy gathered in a billionaire’s hotspot".
He tweeted: "Scores of celebrities and the rich have arrived in Sicily for a Google conference. They came in 114 private jets and a flotilla of super yachts. The conference is on global warming.
"What is [the] conference going to achieve, other than a glamorous knees up for the rich? Also, and I may be out on a limb here, but I do believe there are scheduled flights and ferries to Sicily."
Muna Suleiman, climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: "People should really think hard about the message they’re sending out and the damage they’re causing when chartering a private plane. It’s obviously important to have voices from across the globe as part of the conversation around stopping climate breakdown, but there are ways to travel more responsibly."
The annual event was created by Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin seven years ago to allow the rich and famous to meet in private.