Private jet flights in Europe reached record levels last year – most of which were ultra-short journeys. As a result, the number of private jet flights increased by 64% last year, reaching a record high of 572 806. Together, they emitted 3,4 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions. In Belgium alone, private flights more than doubled (+52%) to 10 618 private flights.
An analysis, commissioned by Greenpeace and conducted by Dutch environmental consultancy CE Delft revealed these figures. Greenpeace, therefore, calls for a ban on private aircraft.
“The alarming growth of private jet flights is entirely at odds with all the climate science that tells us to bring down CO2 emissions immediately to avert total disaster,” says Joeri Thijs, spokesperson for Greenpeace. “So a ban on those energy-wasting, ultra-polluting private jets is a no-brainer.”
Private jet emissions, which have a disproportionate impact on the environment, were found to have more than doubled in Europe in 2022, exceeding the annual per capita carbon emissions of 550 000 European Union residents.
Nice, Paris, and Geneva
The analysis found that the countries with the most private jet flights in Europe last year were the UK, France, and Germany. The most popular destinations for private jet flights in Europe in 2022 were the French Riviera city of Nice, France’s capital of Paris, and Switzerland’s second-most populous city of Geneva.
According to Greenpeace, more than half (55%) of the private jet flights in Europe were ultra-short journeys (below 750 km). Trips that could easily have been made by train or ferry instead.
In Belgium, Brussels-London seems to be the most popular connection (647 flights last year), followed by Brussels-Paris (545 flights), and Brussels-Geneva (407 flights). The survey also revealed that private jet users don’t just fly to business destinations; pleasure trips to Majorca and the Côte d’Azur, for instance, are often made by private jet.
The use of private jets even boomed since the corona crisis broke out: regular aviation was halted due to lockdowns, but those who could afford it, could still fly thanks to those private jets.
According to Greenpeace’s calculations, all those private flights represented 41 000 tons of CO2 emissions, the equivalent of the average annual emissions of 278 310 passenger cars. “Not to speak of those flights’ noise and toxic particles,” Thijs concludes.
‘No legal basis for a ban’
The train, however, often is a valuable alternative. From Paris, a train runs eight times a day to geneva; to London, the frequency is ten times a day, and it only takes two and a half hours.
Introducing a ban on flying by private jet is impossible, says Mark Harbers (VVD), Minister of Infrastructure, “since there is no legal basis for it”. However, the Minister will consider including private jet use in the aviation climate policy.
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