‘Belgian ministers traveled the world 66 times by plane’

The ministerial cabinets of the federal government and the various federated entities have already traveled around the world 66 times since coming to power. This carried a price tag of over 33 million euros, and the trips generated 1 500 tons of CO2 emissions. So write the IPM Group newspapers, including La Libre Belgique. By comparison, Belgium emits over 100 million tons of CO2 annually, so the average Belgian emits 9 tons.

With 326 air trips, the federal government has made 38 world trips since the beginning of the legislature. Foreign Affairs Minister Hadja Lahbib’s cabinet ranks first (with 60 business trips), followed by Defence Minister Ludivine Dedonder’s (40) and Prime Minister Alexander De Croo’s (27). The Development Cooperation, Justice, and Energy cabinets complete the top five, with 22 missions each.

Expensive Falcon

Many of the trips are carried out by one of two Falcon FX7s. Each Falcon costs the Belgian government 14 500 euros per day (fixed costs), to which variable costs such as fuel, pilots, and airport taxes are added.

The Belgian Defence has a 124-million-euro contract with Luxaviation for the two Falcon 7Xs over twelve years. Meanwhile, the fixed costs for the fleet already ran to more than 31 million euros.

Busy agenda for Jambon and Smet

The federal government, or the Vivaldi government, emits three times more CO2 than all regional governments with lower travel budgets. When partial entities are included, the top three most traveling cabinets change. With 37 missions, the cabinet of Flemish Prime Minister Jan Jambon traveled more than that of Prime Minister De Croo.

The same goes for Pascal Smet, former Brussels State Secretary for Urban Planning, European and International Affairs, and Foreign Trade, among others – he resigned in July because of the presence of an Iranian delegation at the Brussels Summit. His cabinet’s counter stops at 34 missions, making that cabinet emit as much CO2 as all cabinets combined of the Walloon government.

20 euros/ton CO2 as compensation

To be clear, some ministries pay a CO2 contribution to an organization that supports climate projects as compensation for their emissions from air travel. Most government agencies cooperate with Greentripper for this purpose.

According to a master’s thesis at UGent from 2019, the CO2 offset tools from Greentripper, Atmosfair, Cyclamate, and Treecological appear to perform the best CO2 calculations.

Greentripper currently charges 20 euros/ton CO2. Suppose all ministerial cabinets were to offset their business travel, this would amount to 30 000 euros. Some consider a 40 euros/ton CO2 pricing to be more correct.


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