Global elites are guilty of 'climate hypocrisy' by flying to WEF on private jets

The quickest flight — from Friedrichshafen (D) to Altenrhein SG — was a measly 21 km. The drive would have taken only an hour by car.

Global elites are guilty of 'climate hypocrisy' by flying to WEF on private jets
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According to Greenpeace International, 1,040 private jets carried passengers attending the 2023 World Economic Forum (WEF). The traversing private jets created CO2 emissions four times greater than an average week.

"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," said Klara Maria Schenk, transport campaigner for Greenpeace's European mobility campaign.  

Dutch environmental consultancy CE Delft uncovered that air traffic for Davos doubled during this year's annual WEF meeting compared to average weeks.

Of these flights, 53% travelled less than 750 km, which travel by train or car could have been an adequate replacement. Another 38% flew shorter distances under 500 km, with the quickest flight a measly 21 km. 

The affected flight went from Friedrichshafen (D) to Altenrhein SG — a stone's throw across Lake Constance. The drive would have taken only an hour by car.

"Private jets must be consigned to history 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," said Schenk.

"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."

The WEF hopes explicitly to tackle the climate emergency and other "ongoing crises" this year through "bold collective action." But with private jets considered the most polluting mode of transport per passenger kilometre, Schenk condemned the hypocrisy of political and economic leaders in attendance.

According to its statements, the WEF wants to reduce these emissions and offers discounts of 50% for the participation fee to those who travel by train. Despite no action yet taken, France spearheaded several EU countries to push for an EU-wide regulation of private jet emissions.

Schenk notes that Europe is amid its warmest January. Germany, France and Italy had the most members in attendance of any participating nation.

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  • By Alexandra Lavoie

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