Emirates president Sir Tim Clark has spoken out in favour of climate change activists.

In an BBC interview, he said: “I quite like Extinction Rebellion and Greta Thunberg for having brought a real focus to the issue; a focus on the fact that we are not doing enough at the speed we should be.

“I’m not condoning some of their methods. But Extinction Rebellion and Greta have a role to play… We really need this kind of thing to force us to make decisions.”

Activists have done more to highlight the issues than any government or industry body ever has, he added.

“The stark reality of climate change is with us. I’m a climate change believer. I have to say, it took me a long time to get there,” the boss of the Dubai-based carrier said.

“And we [in the aviation industry] aren’t doing ourselves any favours by chucking billions of tons of carbon into the air. It’s got to be dealt with.”

Emirates uses 100 million barrels of oil a year, so finding a viable alternative to fossil fuels is not going to happen any time soon, according to Sir Tim.

He has little faith that electric battery alternatives will ever be capable of powering a big airliner.

And while biofuels are an option, they won’t be scalable to meet demand.

Synthetic fuels offer the best alternative, but these are years from being fit for purpose.

“But the industry has been a very bad articulator of the good things we’ve done,” Sir Tim added.