Private jet flights tripled, CO2 emissions quadrupled since before pandemic

The number of flights with private jets tripled since 2019, and with that, their CO2 emissions quadrupled, Greenpeace reported based on research by CE Delft. Across Europe, there were 573,000 private jet flights last year, causing almost 3.4 million tons of CO2, Trouw reports.

Greenpeace put those emissions in perspective: 3.4 million tons of CO2 is the same as what 550,000 inhabitants of the European Union emit per year. It’s also the same as the annual emissions of 3.3 million Africans, showing the “shameless inequality” of these “luxury emissions,” Greenpeace said.

In the Dutch study, the flying habits of F1 driver Max Verstappen were particularly striking. He traveled 164,126 kilometers by private jet in nine months, with the shortest flight being 25 kilometers from Nice to Cannes. In Europe, private jets are often used for business trips and vacation flights. Depending on the type of jet, private jets emit between 5 and 20 times more CO2 per passenger than regular commercial flights and up to 50 times more than trains.

Forty percent of private jet flights cover distances less than 500 kilometers. The most popular flights are between London and Paris and Paris and Geneva – both routes optimally covered by train, CE Delft pointed out. There are eight trains between Paris and Geneva daily, taking three hours and 15 minutes. Trains run ten times per day between Paris and London, taking about 2.5 hours.

Greenpeace called on the Dutch and other European governments to ban private jets. “Millions of people around the world are affected by the climate crisis and its costs,” Greenpeace campaign leader Klara Maria Schenk said. “Meanwhile, a small minority burns jet fuel like there is no tomorrow, purely for their own pleasure and gain.”

Minister Mark Harbers of Infrastructure said last year that he saw little point in banning private jets. There is no legal basis for such a ban, and it would “strongly affect the private life of citizens,” he said in a letter to parliament in the autumn. Citizens can “decide for themselves whether they take the car or bus,” he said. But he did promise to look into including the use of private jets in the climate policy for aviation.

High time, Greenpeace said. The environmental organization pointed out that private jets aren’t included in the government’s plans to shrink Schiphol Airport from 500,000 to 460,000 flight movements per year. In the current plans, private jet air traffic can continue to grow. Greenpeace called this a “blind spot in aviation policy.”

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