February 6, 2023

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A private plane to Davos to talk about the climate: “shameless” | Abroad

Fighting climate change will be one of the main points of discussion at the World Economic Forum (WEF) next week. However, some participants from politics and business travel there in the least sustainable way: by private jet.

During the previous summit, more than a thousand private planes flew to airports around Davos, Switzerland, where the conference is taking place. This is twice the normal number, according to research office CE Delft.

Commissioned by Greenpeace, the independent agency carried out an analysis of flight movements around the World Economic Forum in May 2021. The researchers compared the number of flights with private jets from seven airports in the region with normal weeks. They attribute about five hundred flights to conference attendees. Because some of the planes came from far away, the total emissions were four times higher than the week’s average.

Based on the distances flown to and from Davos and the type of aircraft, CE Delft calculated the amount of carbon dioxide emitted. In the week of the conference, this amounted to 9.7 kt. The report’s authors note that this is equivalent to the emissions of an average of 35,000 cars traveling from Paris to Davos and back. On an average of weeks, the total emissions of private aircraft using the seven airports are about 2.3 kilotonnes.


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Private jets emit far more greenhouse gases per person than scheduled commercial flights, which carry more passengers and are therefore more fuel efficient.

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Private jets emit far more greenhouse gases per person than scheduled commercial flights, which carry more passengers and are therefore more fuel efficient. Depending on the type of aircraft, among other things, a private jet is at least five times as polluted and in the worst case up to fourteen times as polluted, the researchers point to an earlier study by the environmental organization Transport and Environment. Compared to a train, a private plane pollutes fifty times more according to this analysis.

The World Economic Forum is held annually. The next edition starts on Monday and ends on Friday. It is an important networking event for politicians and businessmen. In addition to climate and sustainability, issues such as cyber security, human rights, and the future of the food system are discussed.

Agent Greenpeace does not have a kind word for participants who go to the World Economic Forum on a private jet. Aviation expert Martin De Sio describes it as “shameful” to travel using “the most polluting and exclusive means of transport”. “Especially now that heat records were broken across Europe in January and climate disasters are affecting more and more people around the world.”

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