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T&E: Rising use of private jets sends CO2 emissions soaring

CO2 emissions from private jets in Europe increased by nearly a third (31%) between 2005 and 2019, rising faster than commercial aviation emissions, according to a new report from environmental campaign group Transport & Environment (T&E).


The report, Private jets: can the super-rich supercharge zero emission aviation?, finds that private jets are 10 times more carbon-intensive than airliners on average, and 50 times more polluting than trains in terms of CO2 emitted per passenger-km.

According to the report, a four-hour private flight emits as much as the average person does in a year. T&E points out however, that private jet owners, who have an average wealth of €1.3 billion, could be part of the solution by paying for the development of greener technology that can help accelerate innovation and clean flying for everyone.

The study highlights the continued use of private jets last year despite the pandemic. By August 2020, while most Europeans were still grounded and commercial flights were down 60% year-on-year, private jet traffic had returned to pre-COVID levels. One operator reported an 11.3% increase in private flight sales in July 2020 alone.

Flying on a private jet is probably the worst thing you can do for the environment. And yet, super-rich super polluters are flying around like there’s no climate crisis. The upside is that the private jet market is ideally suited to help bring about aviation’s Tesla moment, making hydrogen and electric planes a reality.

—Andrew Murphy, Aviation Director at T&E

The report also finds:

  • Seven of the 10 most polluting routes taken by private aircraft within Europe lie on the UK-France-Switzerland-Italy axis.

  • Private jets departing the UK and France are the biggest source of pollution, representing over a third (36%) of private flight emissions in Europe between them.

  • 1 in 10 flights departing France are private jets, half of which travelled less than 500 km.

Despite the disproportionate climate impact, private jets are untaxed in most European nations because of exemptions from the EU’s carbon pricing scheme (EU ETS) and untaxed kerosene.

T&E calculates that a jet fuel tax applied proportionately to flight distances could raise €325 million if applied to all flights departing from the EU and UK. The report suggests that revenues raised in this way could be used to accelerate the decarbonization of the aviation sector.

The good news is these short hops are prime targets for replacement by clean technologies like electric and hydrogen aircraft. European policymakers need to urgently start taxing fossil-fuel powered private jets and ban their use by 2030. The revenues raised from the super-rich could be invested in greener technology that could clean up flying for everyone.

—Andrew Murphy

While the aviation sector is preparing to re-open post-European lockdowns, its environmental impact is under increasing scrutiny. France has recently banned some short-haul internal flights and the UK is developing its own aviation emissions framework, as well as speeding up its target to cut emissions ahead of hosting the G7 Summit in June 2021.

The report makes three recommendations to advance the decarbonization of the sector and mitigate the disproportionate climate impact of private jet use:

  1. Hydrogen and electric: By 2030, regulators should only allow the use of green hydrogen or electric aircraft powered for private jet flights under 1,000 km within Europe.

  2. Polluter pays: Until a ban in 2030, a combination of an effective price on carbon, jet fuel and flight taxes should be imposed on fossil-fuel private jets, scaled with flight distance and aircraft weight, to account for their disproportionate climate impact.

  3. Alternative transport: Companies and individuals should commit to substantial reduction in private jet use. As new technologies emerge, flights should be prohibited when alternatives exist that do not increase travel time by more than 2hr30.



Good to see the leaders of the free-loading world doing their bit as usual.


10 times more carbon-intensive
We could use hybrid turbofan with renewable fuel



I am moderately hopeful about this:

' For those fancying a trip from Liverpool to Belfast or Barcelona to the Balearic Islands but concerned about the carbon footprint of aeroplane travel, a small Bedford-based company is promising a surprising solution: commercial airships.

Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), which has developed a new environmentally friendly airship 84 years after the Hindenburg disaster, on Wednesday named a string of routes it hoped to serve from 2025.

The routes for the 100-passenger Airlander 10 airship include Barcelona to Palma de Mallorca in four and a half hours. The company said the journey by airship would take roughly the same time as aeroplane travel once getting to and from the airport was taken into account, but would generate a much smaller carbon footprint. HAV said the CO2 footprint per passenger on its airship would be about 4.5kg, compared with about 53kg via jet plane.'

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