Summit generates tons of hot air
THE Paris summit will have a huge negative impact on the environment as 50,000 politicians, activists and lobbyists travel to France.
Negotiators, delegates, diplomats and aides from up to 195 countries travelled to Paris by air, many in private jets, by car or by train for the 12-day conference.
Barack Obama flew in from the United States on Air Force One, a converted Boeing 747.
But the environmental impact has not necessarily persuaded world leaders to be more frugal during the summit, with Mr Obama and French president Francois Hollande dining at a £300-a-head Michelin-starred restaurant last night.
When presidential motorcades, taxi journeys, hotel stays and food are taken into account the conference could create as much as 300,000 tons of carbon dioxide – the gas blamed for the ‘greenhouse effect’ the leaders are committed to stopping.
The UN has said that 27,000 trees will be planted to offset the impact of the conference, but its estimate of the carbon dioxide produced – less than 25,000 tons not including travel – is more than ten times lower than other estimates.
Rough calculations by Wired magazine and Steven Stoft of climateParis.org have put the impact at 290,000 tons, taking into account an average round-trip of around 9,000 miles per attendee.
Taking the fuel consumption of a Boeing 747 – around 16.5 miles per gallon – which the website describes as a ‘ happy medium between private jets and bullet trains’, it is estimated that around 27million gallons of fuel will be used on transport alone.
With each gallon of fuel producing around 21lb of carbon dioxide, the total released by planes flying to and from Paris is thought to weigh around 290,000 tons.
Critics also say that the vast cost of the ‘climate circus’ that is Paris might be spent on better things to help the environment.
The amount spent by the authorities is said to be about £119million, with 20 per cent coming from the private sector. But charities have complained that the participating companies – including major French corporations such as Renault and Banque Paribas – are using the talks to improve their image despite them having a major environmental impact, a practice that is known as ‘greenwashing’ in activist circles.
The talks are likely to be a moneyspinner for the hotels and restaurants of Paris. Last night Mr Obama and Mr Hollande ate at one of the most lavish restaurants in Paris.
A party of 15, which included ministers and civil servants, took their table at l’Ambroisie, on the Place de Vosges in Paris’s fourth arrondissement, shortly after 8pm. The restaurant, which has three Michelin stars, costs about £300 for an average meal with wine. The broader cost of the conference – including the delegates spending around 11 days in hotels in Paris – have been put by one environmental writer, Eric Worrall, at around £750million.
And Michael Lynch, an economist writing for Forbes magazine, estimated that spending this money on planting trees instead could remove 45million tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
In 2010 the climate change talks were held in the Mexican resort of Cancun.
Former Lib Dem MP Chris Huhne, then Britain’s energy and climate change minister, came in for criticism after he stayed at the £240-a-night Moon Palace – a hotel where each room has a jacuzzi.
And last year, when the talks were held in Peru, activists scarred the ancient lines of Nazca, a world heritage site, as they unveiled a protest banner. The protesters damaged a 1,500-year-old etching of a hummingbird.
‘Average round-trip of 9,000 miles’