The rich and powerful flocked to Davos via private jet to discuss climate change, study finds

A new Bombardier Global 7500 business jet. (Pierre Albouy/AFP via Getty Images)

At the World Economic Forum, which kicked off Monday in Davos, Switzerland, the world’s business and political elite will discuss how to tackle climate change, but their own private jet travel to attend the conference will be cause a spike in carbon emissions that warm the planetaccording to a new study by Greenpeace International.

The research, published last Thursday, which was compiled by Dutch environmental consultancy CE Delft, found that twice as many private jets flew to and from airports serving Davos during the 2022 WEF meeting compared to an average week. The carbon dioxide emissions from these additional flights were equivalent to putting about 350,000 gasoline-powered cars on the road during the same one-week period.

In recent weeks, Europe has faced a number of extreme weather events linked to climate change. Heat wave over New Year’s weekend broke records in places like Warsaw, Poland, where a temperature of 66 degrees Fahrenheit was 9°F warmer than the previous all-time high. Parts of Switzerland experienced temperatures above 68°F and some ski resorts in the Alps closed due to a lack of snow. In 2022 — the fifth hottest year record — heat waves in Europe records broken for temperatures and wildfire prevalence.

A ski lift is temporarily closed

A ski lift in the French Alps is temporarily closed on January 5 due to a lack of snow. (Laurent Cipriani/AP)

“Europe is experiencing the hottest January days on record and communities around the world are grappling with extreme weather events supercharged by the climate crisis,” said Klara Maria Schenk, Greenpeace’s European mobility campaign manager. , in a press release. “Meanwhile, the rich and powerful are flocking to Davos in ultra-polluting and socially inequitable private jets to discuss climate and inequality behind closed doors.”

The study found that of the 1,040 private jet flights to or from airports near Davos, 53% were under 466 miles and 38% were under 310 miles. The shortest recorded flight was only 13 miles. Short-haul flights are particularly polluting because planes are less efficient when landing and taking off.

For comparison, the distance between Washington, DC, and New Haven, Connecticut, is 305 miles, and between Boston and Washington, DC, is 440. While it is not uncommon for Americans to travel such distances , Europe has a much more comprehensive, affordable, fast and reliable rail network serving Davos.

A Rhaetian Railway train

A Rhaetian Railway train entering the station in Davos, Switzerland. (Getty Pictures)

France recently became the first country to prohibit short flights between cities connected by a train journey of less than two and a half hours. A French government spokesperson said at the time that France would not ban private jets, but would produce a plan that would reduce the use of private jets through taxation and regulation.

Environmentalists are increasingly arguing that the European Union should ban such private flights. Last November, at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, 700 climate activists staged a sit-in on the tarmac in front of 13 private jets preparing for takeoff, grounding them all for more than six hours.

“The super-rich have grown accustomed to polluting as they please with complete disregard for people and the planet, and private jets are the pinnacle of those luxury emissions that we just can’t afford,” Jonathan said. Leggett, one of the activists. said later The interception.

On Monday, activists from the Swiss Climate Debt group staged a similar protest with a four hour blockade at Altenrhein Airport, Switzerland, near Davos.

climate activists

Climate activists block an airport in Altenrhein, Switzerland on Monday. (Swiss Climate Debt/Handout via Reuters)

Participants at this year’s WEF includes European Union Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, US climate envoy John Kerry, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and President of the Philippines Bang Marcos. The senses. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., Chris Coons, D-Del., and Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz, and Georgia Republican Governor Brian Kemp were among them meeting with a group of business leaders, including Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Antonio Neri, in Davos on Monday.

In the past, Kerry has been criticized for his hypocrisy by conservative outlets such as FoxNews to fly in a private jet. Kerry had previously defended his private flights, arguing that his extremely busy travel schedule in the service of the fight against climate change makes it necessary and noting that he buys carbon offsets to mitigate the impact. But last November, he commercial flight to Egypt to participate in the United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as COP27.

Former Vice President Al Gore talked to Davos Monday on climate change, arguing that multilateral lending institutions like the World Bank need to make more funds available to developing countries for a clean energy transition. Gore said he sometimes traveled by chartering a private jet, but usually he commercial flight. Kerry knocked similar notes in his Tuesday speech in Davos.

“I’m confident we’ll get to a low-carbon, zero-carbon economy — we’ll get there because we have to,” Kerry said. “I am not convinced that we will arrive in time to do what the scientists have said, which is to avoid the worst consequences of the crisis. So how do you get there? … Money, money, money, money, money, money, money.

John Kerry

Climate envoy John Kerry speaking at the World Economic Forum on Tuesday. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images)

Greenpeace argues that the use of private jets mocks the WEF’s stated commitment to help prevent catastrophic climate change.

“Davos has a perfectly adequate train station, but these people can’t even bother to take the train for such a short journey as 21 kilometres,” Schenk said. “Given that 80% of the world’s population has never even flown, but suffers the consequences of climate-damaging emissions from aviation, and that the The WEF says it is committed to the Paris climate target of 1.5°C, this annual private jet bargain is an unpleasant master class in hypocrisy. Private jets must be consigned to history if we are to have a green, fair and safe future for all.

More climate-focused events are expected at the forum this week. High profile youth activists Greta Thunberg and Vanessa Nakate will be in town to demand an end to new oil and gas drilling projects. Thunberg was keen to avoid flying at all when possible, including sailing the Atlantic Ocean, but she flew when alternatives are not available.

The WEF did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In 2019, when a previous study on the use of private jets to and from the forum drew criticism, the organization responded that attendees were taking fewer private flights each year.

“We have been providing incentives for participants to use public transport for a few years,” the WEF said in a statement in 2019. “We also ask them to share planes if they need to use them, which has gained popularity in recent years.”

Comments are closed.