A New Zealand journalist could not contain her laughter while the teenage climate activist she was interviewing admitted to recently visiting the very place she said others should avoid due to climate change, and now the activist’s mother claims that her daughter was “bullied.”
Izzy Cook, a 16-year-old from New Zealand involved with the School Strike 4 Climate movement in her country, joined radio host Heather du Plessis-Allan on NewstalkZB to discuss her activism. “Am I allowed to go to Fiji? Is that necessary?” the radio host asked. “In the current climate crisis, I don’t think that’s necessary travel,” Cook responded.
“When was the last time you were on a plane?” du Plessis-Allan pressed.
“I’m not sure. Maybe a few months ago, to be honest,” Cook hesitantly replied.
“Where’d you go?” du Plessis-Allan asked again.
After a moment, Cook admitted: “Fiji.”
“Izzy!” the host shouted amid uncontrollable laughter. “Izzy! Don’t you care about the climate, Izzy?”
When asked why she went to the South Pacific island paradise, Cook said that her parents brought her on vacation.
“Are you embarrassed your parents did that to the planet and then forced you to do it as well?” du Plessis-Allan questioned.
“Of course I am not embarrassed,” Cook replied.
“Did you have a terrible time?” du Plessis-Allan pressed.
“Not really,” Cook said before the host cut her off with more guffawing.
Despite the point raised by du Plessis-Allan, Rose Cook — the mother of Izzy Cook — penned an opinion piece for New Zealand news outlet The Spinoff contending that her daughter was “bullied.”
“Commentators like du Plessis-Allan don’t give a s*** about climate change,” wrote the mother, who admitted that she and her daughter flew to Fiji in July. “They don’t care that Arctic ice is melting at four times the expected rate, or that we are seeing more and more extreme weather events killing and displacing people across the globe… These sorts of commentators use ad hominem arguments and ‘gotcha’ moments for point-scoring and discrediting their opponents.”
Rose Cook also praised her daughter’s conscientious lifestyle. “She’s vegetarian, uses public transport, and buys second-hand… The conversation needs to be about radically reimagining the way we live, building sustainable communities, and producing and consuming locally, not gotchas and petty point-scoring.”
Fiji is roughly 1,600 miles away from Wellington, the capital of New Zealand — approximately the same distance from New York City to Austin, Texas. An airplane produces roughly 53 pounds of carbon dioxide per mile, according to an estimate from the open-source emissions project BlueSkyModel.
The interview occurred as the European Union, which has adopted the official policy of becoming “a climate-neutral society” by 2050, struggles to secure reliable oil and gas supplies amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. While many European nations resort to burning wood chips, adolescent Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg sharply rebuked the move.
“Forest biomass takes minutes to burn, whereas it takes anywhere from decades to centuries for the climate and environmentally harmful tree plantations to resequester the carbon emitted,” the 19-year-old wrote in an article for The Guardian. “This equals decades of carbon debts that we do not have time for.”
Izzy Cook is far from the only climate activist accused of unnecessary plane travel. John Kerry, the climate czar for President Joe Biden, was widely criticized last year after a report showed that his family’s private jet was used for at least 20 trips in the first two-thirds of 2021, with each trip emitting 30 times more carbon than the typical passenger vehicle.