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

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

A Bombardier Global 7500 business jet

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

The window to averting catastrophic climate change is closing fast

At the World Economic Forum, which kicked off Monday in Davos, Switzerland, the global business and political elite will debate how to fight climate change, but their own private jet trips to attend the conference will mean a boost to the planet warming carbon emissions cause, according to a new study by Greenpeace International.

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

In recent weeks, Europe has been grappling with a series of extreme weather events related to climate change. A New Year’s weekend heatwave broke records in places like Warsaw, Poland, where a temperature of 20 degrees Fahrenheit was 9 degrees F warmer than the previous all-time high. Parts of Switzerland saw temperatures in excess of 20°C and some ski resorts in the Alps were closed due to a lack of snow. In 2022 – the fifth hottest year on record – heat waves across Europe broke records for temperatures and wildfire spread.

A ski lift is temporarily closed

A ski lift in the French Alps is temporarily closed due to lack of snow, January 5, 2023. (Laurent Cipriani/AP)

“Europe is experiencing the warmest January days on record and communities around the world are grappling with extreme weather events, exacerbated by the climate crisis,” said Klara Maria Schenk, transport activist for Greenpeace’s European Mobility Campaign, in a statement. “Meanwhile, the rich and powerful are flocking to Davos in ultra-polluting, socially unjust 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 shorter than 466 miles and 38% were shorter than 310 miles. The shortest recorded flight was only 13 miles. Short-haul flights are particularly bad for the environment, as planes are less efficient when landing and taking off.

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For comparison, the distance between Washington, DC and New Haven, Connecticut is 305 miles and between Boston and Washington, DC is 440 miles. While it’s not uncommon for Americans to fly such distances, Europe has plenty more comprehensive, affordable, fast ones and reliable train network serving Davos.

The train of the Rhaetian Railway

The Rhaetian Railway train pulls into Davos station. (Getty Images)

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

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

“The super-rich have become accustomed to polluting the environment however they want, with no regard for people or the planet, and private jets are the culmination of these luxury emissions that we simply cannot afford,” said Jonathan Leggett, one of the activists , later to Intercept.

On Monday, activists from the Swiss Debt for Climate group held a similar demonstration with a four-hour blockade at the airport in Altenrhein, Switzerland, near Davos.

climate activists

Climate activists block an airport in Altenrhein, Switzerland, January 16. (Debt for Swiss Climate/Handout via Portal)

Attendees at this year’s WEF include European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, US Climate Commissioner John Kerry, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Philippine President Bongbong Marcos. Sens. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., Chris Coons, D-Del., Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz., and Republican Gov. of Georgia Brian Kemp were among those who met 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 hypocrisy by conservative media such as Fox News for flying on a private jet. Kerry had previously defended his private flights, arguing that his extremely busy travel schedule in the service of fighting climate change necessitated it, noting that he buys carbon offsets to mitigate the impact. But last November, Kerry flew commercially to Egypt to attend the United Nations climate change conference known as COP27.

Former Vice President Al Gore spoke in Davos on Monday about climate change, arguing that multilateral lenders like the World Bank need to provide developing countries with more funding for a clean energy transition. Gore has said that he has sometimes flown by chartering a private jet, but that he usually flies commercially. Kerry struck a similar tone in his speech in Davos on Tuesday.

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

john kerry

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

Greenpeace argues that the use of private jets makes a mockery of the WEF’s stated commitment to preventing catastrophic climate change.

“Davos has a perfectly adequate train station, but these people don’t even want to travel 21 kilometers by train,” said Schenk. “Given that 80% of the world’s population has never flown but is suffering from the consequences of climate-damaging flight emissions and the WEF is committed to the Paris 1.5-degree climate target, this annual private jet bonanza is a great tasteless master class in hypocrisy. Private jets must be a thing of the past if we are to have a green, just and safe future for all.”

More climate-related protests are expected at the forum this week. High-profile youth activists Greta Thunberg and Vanessa Nakate will be in town to call for an end to new oil and gas drilling projects. Thunberg has made it a point to avoid flying in the first place whenever possible, including by sailing across the Atlantic, but she has flown when alternatives are not available.

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

When a previous study on the use of private jets for flights to and from the Forum drew criticism in 2019, the organization responded that participants are taking fewer private flights each year.

“We’ve been incentivizing attendees to use public transit for a number of years,” the WEF said in a statement in January 2019. “We also ask them to share planes if they need to use them, which has become increasingly popular in recent years.” .”