UN COP27: Pro-climate conference delegates arrived in anti-climate private jets

A single private jet can emit two metric tons of CO2 in just an hour.
Baba Tamim
Representational image: Gulfstream G650 long range luxury business jet owned by Steve Wynn flying.
Representational image: Gulfstream G650 long range luxury business jet owned by Steve Wynn flying.

DarthArt/iStock 

Climate change delegates traveling aboard private jets known to release more carbon dioxide emissions have added to the controversy surrounding the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

Hundreds of environmental activists stopped private jets from taking off from Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport the day before the conference started last week. 

"I think the activists are right...the few leaders that attended the event, are affecting climate more than helping it by coming on private jets," Dr. Gohram Malghani, associate professor of the Environmental Sciences department at the Balochistan University of Information Technology, Engineering, and Management Sciences (BUITEMS) University, Pakistan, told Interesting Engineering (IE) on Thursday.

"Environmentalists understand that leaders are less interested in climate issues." 

The demonstrators sat in front of the private jets and cycled around the airfield to register their protest. 

36 private jets landed at COP27 in two days 

UN COP27: Pro-climate conference delegates arrived in anti-climate private jets
Representational image: Private jet flying.

Flightradar24, a Swedish online service that displays real-time aircraft flight tracking data, revealed 36 private jets landed in Sharm el-Sheikh between November 4 and 6, before the commencement of the summit.

Additional 64 flights, 24 of which originated in Sharm el-Sheikh, arrived in Cairo.

According to Flightradar24 data, Nine of the flights originated in the United Kingdom, with others from Europe, including Italy, France, and the Netherlands. Two flights arrived in Cairo from the United States, one from Atlanta and one from Washington, DC.

There may have been more scheduled private flights than it was able to capture due to the "limited coverage in the area," noted FlightRadar24. 

However, according to a BBC Reality Check investigation, in 2021, fewer private planes appear to be flying to COP27 than at COP26, which was hosted in Glasgow.

Anti-climate private jets

If compared to commercial flights, private planes typically emit much more pollution per passenger. 

"Private jets have a disproportionate impact on the environment. In just one hour, a single private jet can emit two metric tonnes of CO2," according to a report released last year by Transport & Environment, a major European clean transport campaign group.

"The average person in the EU emits 8.2 tons of CO2-eq over the course of an entire year." 

CO2-eq is a metric measure used to compare the emissions from various greenhouse gasses on the basis of their global-warming potential (GWP)

The Gulfstream G650, which uses roughly 500 gallons (1,893 liters) of gasoline per hour, was the one that was flown into Egypt the most frequently to Cop27, BBC reported

Despite the protests, it should have taken a private plane roughly five hours to travel from Amsterdam to Sharm el-Sheikh, burning about 9,465 liters of aviation fuel, as per the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). 

The output of such a flight would be 23.9 tonnes with every liter of aircraft turbine fuel burned, resulting in the emission of 2.5kg (5.5lb) of CO2. 

Therefore, if all 15 seats were occupied, the total emissions for this flight would be 45.3 tonnes of CO2 equivalent, with each passenger contributing roughly three tonnes to the overall amount.

These emissions values are estimations for the actual flights, they do not account for the emissions generated during the initial production of the private aircraft, according to BBC

It is "missing the point" to concentrate on how world leaders traveled to COP27 in private jets, the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit's lead told BBC. 

He claimed that the impact of the decisions and promises taken at these summits outweighed the emissions.

The event has been marred by inflated lodging charges, human rights violations of the host country, and concerns about Egypt's own climate credentials.

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