VIPs including Jeff Bezos flew to a climate change conference on 400 private jets, sparking fury over the carbon emissions caused


Amazon founder Jeff Bezos at the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26.) Alain Jocard/AFP/Getty Images

  • More than 400 private jets are ferrying over 1,000 VIPs and their staff to the COP26 environment summit in Scotland.

  • US President Joe Biden, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and other world leaders took private jets to the summit.

  • Private jets have a “disproportionate impact on the environment,” says European campaign group Transport and Environment.

As hundreds of private jets ferry world leaders and top business executives to the United Nations’ COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, environmentalists are up in arms over the environmental damage caused by the travel.

Scotland’s Sunday Mail, citing aviation sources, reported that more than 400 private jets are expected. They are shuttling over 1,000 VIPs and their staff to the talks – which, according to the conference website, seeks to “bring together world leaders to commit to urgent global climate action.”

US President Joe Biden, along with the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, India, Israel, and Japan, have all traveled to the climate crisis symposium via private jet, according to the Sunday Mail. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos also flew in on his $65 million Gulfstream jet, British media reported.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is also planning on returning to London from Scotland on a private jet – running on sustainable fuel, the Guardian reported. His official spokesperson told the British news outlet, “it is important that the Prime Minister is able to move round the country, and obviously we face significant time constraints.”

According to the International Council on Clean Transportation, commercial aviation currently accounts for about 2% of global carbon emissions, but that number is set to triple by 2050.

Private jets have a “disproportionate impact on the environment,” said European campaign group Transport and Environment. The group noted in a May 2021 report that private planes are five to 14 times more polluting than commercial planes on a per passenger basis, and 50 times more polluting than trains.

“It can’t be stressed enough how bad private jets are for the environment, it is the worst way to travel by miles,” the group’s UK policy manager told Scotland’s Sunday Mail. “Private jets are very prestigious but it is difficult to avoid the hypocrisy of using one while claiming to be fighting climate change,” he said.

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