Scottish Daily Mail
‘Out of touch’ VIPs slated after arriving for summit in private jets
DOZENS of world leaders, business chiefs and eco-activists faced allegations of hypocrisy yesterday for taking private jets or domestic flights to Glasgow while telling the rest of the world to cut their carbon footprint.
Culprits included billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, US President Joe Biden and the Prime Minister.
Hours after telling delegates at Cop26 that the conference ‘can and must mark the beginning of the end’ of the climate change catastrophe, Boris Johnson admitted he would fly home to London from Glasgow rather than travel by rail.
His revelation came after Mr Bezos’s £48million Gulf Stream private jet was pictured landing in Glasgow – flying in from Rome where he had discussed the climate crisis with Prince Charles. Private jets are the world’s highest carbon-emitting form of transport.
Prince Charles himself was among those who travelled by noncommercial plane after attending the G20 summit in Rome. However, a spokesman for Clarence House said the flight made use of ‘sustainable aviation fuel’.
As well as taking hundreds of carbon-polluting private flights since Sunday, VIPs will take advantage of electric vehicles – many of which will be charged by large generators which belch out nitrogen oxides because of a lack of charging provisions.
Critics said the move showed a ‘complete lack of preparedness for the wholesale switch away from fossil fuel cars that we require’.
President Biden addressed the summit claiming the US ‘would lead by the power of example’ in the fight against climate change after driving from Edinburgh to Glasgow in a 20-car motorcade.
Mr Biden arrived in Edinburgh yesterday on Air Force One, and was accompanied by three other planes and the Marine One helicopter. On landing, an enormous motorcade including ‘the Beast’ presidential vehicle, a number of Range Rovers and Chevrolet SUVs carried the presidential party to Glasgow’s Scottish Event Campus. If all the vehicles are petrol-run, estimates show they will have pumped out 360kg of carbon over the 40-mile journey. It is estimated the entire journey for the President could generate up to 2.2million pounds of carbon.
Prince Albert of Monaco and representatives from the Bank of America also used private jets to fly to the conference, while the likes of German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Emmanuel Macron made use of official government aircraft.
It was estimated that as many as 400 private jets arrived for the conference, as highlighted by the Mail yesterday. Conservative predictions suggest the fleet would emit 13,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide in total – equivalent to the amount emitted by more than 1,600 Britons in a year. Many arrived from cities such as London, Stockholm, Rome and Brussels, which are served by commercial routes.
Last night Labour’s environment spokesman Luke Pollard said world leaders should be ‘leading by example.’ ‘People have sympathy for world leaders flying in from the other side of the world but those coming domestically should be coming by train,’ he said. ‘The idea the Prime Minister will fly home from Cop26 after flying from London to Cornwall for the G7 smacks of being out-of-touch.
‘In terms of Mr Bezos, if you want to have credibility in the debate, you have to not only be decarbonising your company, you should be demonstrating your commitment with your own actions, especially when you are one of the richest people on the planet.’
Greg Archer, UK director of the Transport and Environment campaign group, said: ‘Business leaders and heads of state flying into the climate talks on private jets illustrates how totally out of touch they are with public opinion to urgently tackle the climate emergency.
‘These jets cause as much heating of the planet during a threehour return flight than the average
‘Should lead by example’
Brit does in a year.’ Asked why Mr Johnson was not taking the train, the PM’s official spokesman said he faced ‘significant time constraints’.
The spokesman said the jet used by the PM this week produces half the emissions of his normal official plane, partly because of the use of ‘sustainable’ jet fuel. Carbon emissions relating to the flight will be ‘offset’ through schemes such as tree planting.
The spokesman defended the sight of hundreds of private jets flying in, saying it was important for leaders to meet face to face for such important talks.