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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Helena Horton Environment reporter

Private jet emissions quadrupled during Davos 2022

Private jets are parked up at a Swiss air force base in Dübendorf during the 2020 World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland
Private jets are parked up at a Swiss air force base in Dübendorf during the 2020 Davos meeting. Photograph: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters

Private jet emissions quadrupled as 1,040 planes flew in and out of airports serving Davos during the 2022 World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting.

Climate campaigners accused the rich and powerful of hypocrisy in flying in on private jets to a conference discussing climate breakdown.

The Dutch environmental consultancy CE Delft calculated that during the meeting last year, CO2 emissions from private jets were four times greater than in an average week.

The number of private jet flights to and from airports serving the Swiss ski resort where the conference is held were twice as high during the 2022 meeting compared with a typical week, emitting as much CO2 as 350,000 average cars over that period.

World leaders and business chiefs are again expected to arrive in Davos on private jets next week, causing another spike in emissions.

Klara Maria Schenk, a transport campaigner for Greenpeace’s European mobility campaign, said: “The rich and powerful are swarming to Davos to discuss climate and inequality behind closed doors, using the most unequal and polluting form of transport: private jets. Meanwhile, Europe is experiencing its warmest January days on record and communities around the world are grappling with extreme weather events supercharged by the climate crisis.”

Of the flights to airports near Davos last year, 53% were short-haul flights of less than 750km (466 miles), which could have been done by rail or car, while 38% were over distances of less than 500km. The shortest flight recorded was just 13 miles.

The 2023 WEF meeting has a self-proclaimed goal of tackling the climate emergency and other “ongoing crises”, and has called for “bold collective action”. Private jet flights are not regulated in the EU, but they are the most polluting mode of transport per passenger kilometre.

Schenk urged leaders not to travel by private jet this year and to ban their use in general. “Given that 80% of the world’s population has never even flown, but suffers from the consequences of climate-damaging aviation emissions, and that the WEF claims to be committed to the 1.5C Paris climate target, this annual private jet bonanza is a distasteful masterclass in hypocrisy,” she said.

“Private jets must be consigned to history if we are to have a green, just and safe future for all. So-called world leaders must lead by example and ban private jets and useless short-haul flights.”

The British prime minister, Rishi Sunak, was accused of making “a mockery of his climate pledges” and wasting taxpayers’ money after it emerged that he travelled from London to Leeds, a distance of about 200 miles, on an RAF jet.

Sunak used the plane to travel to the Rutland Lodge medical practice on Monday, which he visited alongside the social care minister, Helen Whately. Downing Street insisted the mode of travel was the “most effective use of his time”.

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