Private jet use is at pre-pandemic levels
Private jet use is at pre-pandemic levels

Private jet flights from UK and France emit more CO2 than 20 other European countries combined

A four-hour private flight emits as much carbon as the average person does in a year

Helen Coffey@LenniCoffey
Thursday 27 May 2021 10:24

Private jet flights departing from the UK and France emit more CO2 than 20 other European countries combined, according to a new report.  

The two countries together represent almost 40 per cent of emissions from private jets in Europe, and six of the top 10 most polluting routes for private aviation in Europe either arrive or depart from London airports.

Carbon emissions from private jets in the continent have risen by nearly a third (31 per cent) between 2005 and 2019, finds the report from European NGO and campaign group Transport & Environment (T&E).

Entitled “Private jets: can the super-rich supercharge zero emission aviation?”, the study reports that a four-hour private flight emits as much as the average person does in a year.

The research also found that CO2 emissions from private jet use have gone up faster than those from commercial flights.

Private jets are 10 times more carbon intensive than other aircraft on average, and 50 times more polluting than trains.

The study highlighted the continued use of private jets in the last year despite the pandemic.

By August 2020, while most Europeans were still grounded and commercial flights were down 60 per cent year-on-year, private jet traffic had returned to pre-Covid levels.

One private jet operator reported an 11.3 per cent increase in flight sales in July 2020.

But despite the climate impact of private jets, they 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 €325m if applied to all flights departing from the EU and UK, and the report suggests that the revenues generated could be used to accelerate the decarbonisation of the aviation sector.

“Flying on a private jet is probably the worst thing you can do for the environment,” said Andrew Murphy, aviation director at T&E.

“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.”

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

  • By 2030, regulators should only allow the use of green hydrogen or electric aircraft powered for private jet flights under 1,000km within Europe.
  • 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.
  • 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 2hr 30m.

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