Hundreds of private jets to WEF despite looming climate crisis: Dutch study
Combating climate change is one of the big topics of discussion at the World Economic Forum next week. Still, hundreds of the participants from politics and business are traveling there in the least sustainable way: by private jet, according to Dutch research bureau CE Delft. Prime Minister Mark Rutte will attend the WEF in Davos, Switzerland, with six Cabinet members.
During the previous WEF, more than a thousand private jets flew to the airports in the vicinity of Davos. That is twice as many as usual, according to an analysis by the independent agency of flight movements around the WEF in May 2021. Greenpeace commissioned the study. CE Delft compared the number of private jet flights to and from seven airports in the wider area with regular weeks. They attribute about five hundred flights to conference attendees. Because some aircraft came from far away, the total emissions were more than four times higher than in an average week.
CE Delft calculated the CO2 emitted based on the distances flown to and from Davos and the type of aircraft used. In the week of the conference, about 9.7 kilotonnes of CO2 was emitted. That is equivalent to the emissions of 35,000 average cars driving from Paris to Davos and back, the agency noted. In average weeks, the combined emissions of private jets using the seven airports amount to about 2.3 kilotonnes.
Private jets emit much more greenhouse gases per person than commercial scheduled flights, which carry many more passengers and are therefore more fuel efficient. Depending on, among other things, the type of aircraft, a private jet is at least five times more polluting and, in the worst case, even 14 times more polluting, the researchers said based on an earlier study by environmental organization Transport and Environment. Compared to the train, a private jet is 50 times more polluting.
It is “shameless” to travel with the most polluting and most exclusive means of transport,” Greenpeace aviation expert Maarten de Zeeuw said. “Especially now that heat records are breaking throughout Europe in January, and climate disasters are affecting more and more people worldwide.”
The World Economic Forum is held every year. The upcoming edition starts on Monday and ends on Friday. It is an important networking event for politicians and business people. In addition to the climate and sustainability, issues like cyber security, human rights, and the future of the food system are on the agenda.
The Dutch government is sending seven Cabinet members to Switzerland for the WEF. In addition to Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Ministers Sigrid Kaag (Finance) and Wopke Hoekstra (Foreign Affairs), Ministers Karien van Gennip (Social Affairs and Employment), Kajsa Ollongren (Defense), and Liesje Schreinemachger (Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation) will also attend the forum. As will State Secretary Vivianne Heijnen of Infrastructure and Water Management.
Most Cabinet members, including Rutte and Kaag, will attend on Wednesday and Thursday. Van Gennip, Schreinemacher, and Heijnen are leaving a day earlier. The Ministers will discuss topics like the economies in emerging countries, the circular economy, stability in the Middle East, the four-day workweek, and growth in the European Union.