For British tourists heading to the Big Apple to take advantage of a weak dollar and stock up on bargains, the choice is clear: saving money comes before saving the planet.

With sterling hitting its highest levels against the dollar since 1981, British media are cranking up headlines on the number of people jetting to the United States to pick up bargain designer clothes and electrical goods.

"The weak dollar is certainly helping a few shoppers find their way to the U.S.," George Stinnes, head of investor relations at British Airways, said earlier this month when the company reported passenger numbers on routes to the Americas had jumped 7.4 percent in October from a year ago. Those who have witnessed the sharp-elbowed frenzy of retailer Harrods' sales may not be surprised to learn that for some shoppers, the lure of cheap trendy Ugg boots and iPods outweighs the 2,000 kg or so of carbon dioxide the return flight pumps into the atmosphere.

The transatlantic bargain-hunting contributes to Britain's status as the eighth-largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world, according to U.S. Department of Energy figures. "It's business travellers who should worry about carbon emissions," said Martin Smithers-Brown from London, checking in for a flight to New York at Heathrow airport for a four-day shopping trip with his wife and two friends. He said he planned to pick up electrical goods such as iPods and cameras, while his wife Krista had her eye on brand-name clothes.


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