Experts have cast doubt on Jacob Rees-Mogg’s claim he is saving the planet by driving a gas-guzzling 1936 Bentley.
The Commons Leader boasted he was “enormously environmentally friendly” by driving the 83-year-old, 3.5-litre engine antique instead of buying a new motor.
The Tory toff owns two Bentleys – a 1936 model he drives around 1,000 miles a year, and a 1968 Bentley T1 he claims can run on the motorway.
He told The Spectator: “My oldest car is 1936 so all that carbon was done a long, long time ago. The running of them is less than the carbon inputs to create them. So I am enormously environmentally friendly by driving old Bentleys.”
But an emissions expert told the Mirror that, while Mr Rees-Mogg makes a valid argument about keeping old cars, the 1936 Bentley can expect to emit one tonne of CO2 per year – so in the long run, the least harmful option is to upgrade it.
Nick Molden of Emissions Analytics said Mr Rees-Mogg’s claims also ignore harmful pollutants like carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and total hydrocarbons that contribute to killer air.
Mr Molden said: “The issue with both Bentleys is they will have not emissions control systems and therefore the emissions may be orders of magnitude higher than newer vehicles.
“Therefore, we can say with confidence that replacing the Bentleys with a new vehicle would be better for air quality.”
Dustin Benton, policy director at the independent think tank Green Alliance, added: “From a carbon perspective, keeping an older car in use isn’t a terrible idea, especially if you only drive 1,000 miles a year.
“But it is very bad for air quality because old cars have no emissions control equipment.
“The best thing Mr Rees-Mogg could do, if he’s keen to be green, would be to convert his 1936 Bentley to an electric vehicle, in the same way that Prince Harry ’s converted his classic Jaguar E type.
“For people who aren’t able to afford the upkeep of a Bentley but need a car, switching to an electric vehicle is the greenest choice, and because electric vehicles are so much more efficient it is cheaper over the life of the vehicle too.”
Buckinghamshire-based Emissions Analytics claims to be a leading independent firm testing “real-world” vehicle emissions.
Founder and chief executive Mr Molden said trading up to a new luxury car would release about 10 tonnes of CO2 in the production line.
But he claimed this would be wiped out by lower CO2 emissions once it is on the road.
He estimated the 1936 Bentley’s emissions based on Mr Rees-Mogg’s own claim that he drives it 1,000 miles a year – and an assumption it achieves about 10-13mpg.
By those calculations, he said, the old car could expect to emit about 1kg of CO2 per mile compared to 0.4kg per mile for a new car.
Taking the Bentley off the road would therefore save about 600kg of CO2 per year – meaning over a 25-year period it would be better for the environment.
Mr Molden said the argument for upgrading becomes stronger if Mr Rees-Mogg were to drive more than 1,000 miles per year.
He added: “The net CO2 saving from the 1968 Bentley would be much closer, but still just about better to upgrade.”
The Tory minister bought his 1968 Bentley at the age of 23 and has admitted it “broke down all the time” – including a brake failure on the M4. He said in 2016: “I was on first-name terms with the AA relay.” He bought the ’36 Derby Bentley in 2005.
In 2013 the MP was forced to deny canvassing in one of his Bentleys with his Nanny – insisting he used his mum’s Merc instead.
Mr Rees-Mogg declined to comment on the analysis.