Amsterdam, Netherlands – As lobbyists, corporate bosses and political leaders head into the World Economic Forum 2023 (WEF), new analysis commissioned by Greenpeace International reveals the ecological hypocrisy of its attendees. While the WEF claims to be committed to the 1.5°C Paris Climate Target, its attendees arrive in droves of private jets.
Klara Maria Schenk, transport campaigner for Greenpeace’s European mobility campaign, said:
“Europe is experiencing the warmest January days ever recorded and communities around the world are grappling with extreme weather events supercharged by the climate crisis. Meanwhile, the rich and powerful flock to Davos in ultra-polluting, socially inequitable private jets to discuss climate and inequality behind closed doors. Davos has a perfectly adequate railway station, still these people can’t even be bothered to take the train for a trip as short as 21 km. Do we really believe that these are the people to solve the problems the world faces?”
The research, commissioned by Greenpeace International and conducted by Dutch environmental consultancy CE Delft, found that during the week of last year’s World Economic Forum 1,040 private jet flights arrived and departed out of airports serving the Swiss luxury ski resort Davos, with about every second flight attributed to the meeting. 53% were short-haul flights below 750 km that could have easily been train trips, with 38% flying ultra short distances of under 500 km. The shortest flight recorded was only 21 km. Countries with the highest number of arrivals and departures out of Davos airports included neighbouring countries Germany, France and Italy.
Researchers found that all private jet flights to and from airports serving Davos during the World Economic Forum 2022 caused a total of 9,700 tonnes of CO2, equivalent to the emissions of about 350,000 average cars in a week. Researchers attribute a majority of these to private flights undertaken by WEF participants. Climate-damaging emissions from private jet flights quadrupled during the one week of the meeting compared to the weeks before and after the event.
“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 1.5°C Paris Climate Target, this annual private jet bonanza is a distasteful masterclass in hypocrisy. Private jets must be consigned to history if we are to have a green, just and safe future for all. It’s about time our political leaders start to lead by example instead of producing hot air in secret meetings with big business,” added Schenk.
Private jets are not regulated in the EU, even though they are the most polluting mode of transportation on the planet per passenger kilometre. For the first time, in 2022, several EU countries have started to push for an EU-wide regulation of private jet emissions. Greenpeace is calling for a ban on private jets and short-haul flights with train alternatives in the EU.
The issue of private jets garnered global public attention last year after several public figures faced criticism for taking ultra-short trips by private jet. The analysis released by Greenpeace International comes days before political and business leaders head into Davos to attend the 2023 World Economic Forum, with its self-proclaimed goal of wanting to tackle climate change and other “ongoing crises” calling for “bold collective action”.
 The basis of the analysis by CE Delft is data on private jet flights to and from airports in the vicinity of Davos, including the airports of Zürich, Geneva, Altenrhein, Dübendorf, Samedan, Friedrichshafen, and EuroAirport Swiss. The data of private jet flights has been provided by aviation analytics company Cirium. To determine the number of flights during the week of the World Economic Forum 2022 (May 21 – 27), researchers compared the flights in the WEF week with the flights in the weeks before and after. The CO2 emissions of all flights in the WEF week were calculated using the Eurocontrol Small Emitters Tool.
 According to a study by Transport & Environment, private jets are 5 to 14 times more polluting than commercial planes (per passenger), and 50 times more polluting than trains. In 2018, 50% of all aviation emissions were caused by only 1% of the world’s population.
Klara Maria Schenk, transport campaigner, Greenpeace CEE, spokesperson for Greenpeace’s EU Mobility For All Campaign: [email protected], +43 664 881 72267
Marianne Lämmel, Communications Lead, Greenpeace CEE, EU Mobility For All campaign: [email protected], +43 664 881 72 245
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