Cop26: Alok Sharma spared self-isolation after visiting six red-list countries on tour of 30 nations

ITV News Political Correspondent Shehab Khan reports on the trips Mr Sharma has made and the frustrations it has caused

The climate minister Alok Sharma has been accused of "hypocrisy" after it emerged he has travelled to at least 30 countries in the past seven months and failed to self-isolate after visiting six red-list destinations.

Mr Sharma, who was appointed as president of Cop26 in January, used a ministerial exemption from hotel quarantine when he visited Qatar, UAE, Bangladesh, Turkey, Bolivia and Brazil over the spring months and into summer, according to the Daily Mail.

It was reported that Mr Sharma held an indoor meeting - without masks- with Prince Charles days after returning from Bangladesh before going on a visit to a primary school.

'I'm furious' he gets to get away with isolation, Lynne - who is currently isolating after a family funeral says

Under government guidelines, returnees from the 33 higher risk countries - including Bolivia and Brazil - face a mandatory 10-day stay in a quarantine hotel at a cost of £2,285. Ordinary travellers face fines of up to £10,000 for breaking travel quarantine rules.

However, as a government minister, Mr Sharma's "crown servant" status frees him from isolation as part of an exemption written into the Covid travel rules.

The majority of his journeys were in the winter and spring months at the start of 2021 when international travel from Britain was largely banned.

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In March, the former business secretary visited Costa Rica, India, Qatar and the UAE, before heading to the Far East in April and then to Bangladesh in June.

It is estimated that travel to and from all the countries Mr Sharma has visited would stretch to 200,000 miles – eight times around the Earth.

The aviation industry is responsible for 2% of all human-induced carbon dioxide emissions, according to the air transport action group.As well as drawing criticism from environmental campaigners, his trips have also led to MPs and senior politicians questioning whether the amount of foreign travel he undertook was necessary.

Liberal Democrat spokeswoman Sarah Olney MP said: “While Alok Sharma flies to red-list countries with abandon, hard-working families can hardly see loved ones or plan holidays as the Government changes travel rules on the hoof.

“People are sick of the Government giving themselves get-out-of-jail free passes while the rest of us stick to the rules.”

"I do understand it’s very good to meet people in person, but this is excessive," said Green Party peer Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb. "When you’re in charge of Cop26, to take this many flights is hypocritical."

Adding further criticism, Wales' First Minister Mark Drakeford said ministers "have to demonstrate that we too mean business" in tackling climate change if they want the public to follow suit, and frequent travelling "doesn't advance the cause".

Mr Sharma is tasked with securing commitments from key nations as he prepares to host the delayed climate change conference Cop26 in Glasgow in October and November.

He remains in Brazil where he is meeting with state and business leaders in an attempt to get them to commit to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Mr Sharma and his delegation were frequently tested for Covid-19, it is understood, while social distancing guidelines and the wearing of mask was enforced.

A UK government spokesman said: “Helping the world tackle the climate emergency is an international priority for the government.

“Virtual meetings play a large part, however face-to-face meetings are key to success in the climate negotiations the UK is leading as hosts of Cop26 and are crucial to understanding first-hand the opportunities and challenges other countries are facing in the fight against climate change.”