18/04/2016

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Climate change and air transportation

Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo recently bought himself a private jet. He is not the first one to buy one of these toys among the rich and famous. Traveling economy-class does not exactly fit with the glamorous life of the wealthy elite. After all, the most conspicuous aspect of air transportation is private-jet ownership. If I could, I would. Wouldn’t you too?

If we want to meet the goal set in the latest Climate Change Conference, we would need to change private transport culture, for both air and land transport.

Nevertheless; private-jet transportation does not seem to fit with recent growing concerns about global warming or sustainability. At the recent Climate Change Conference in Paris, many world-leaders, celebrities and CEOs spoke magnificent words about the biggest human challenge in millennia: CO2 emissions reduction strategies were discussed at length.

Paradoxically, many of them flew in their private jets to Paris. Some of these well-meaning people did not do their math. An intercontinental round -trip* in a standard private-jet dumps around 120,000 lb (51,000 Kg) of CO2 into the atmosphere. That’s the equivalent to the yearly emissions of 10 typical families driving an economy car.

I’ll repeat: A single intercontinental flight in a private jet = 10 x year x economy car.

I do not deny the good intentions of our world-leaders and celebrities. They are true and honest people. They really do want to help. But private air transportation – or private ground transportation for that matter– does not seem to fit with the emission targets set in Paris. If we want to meet our goal, we all need to change the culture of private transportation** for good.

Business leaders and world celebrities expressing a concern about climate change could greatly contribute to the cause just by sharing the ride with the rest of us. Furthermore, travelling economy-class across the Atlantic Ocean would certainly convey the message that our world leaders are ready to walk their talk.

 

(*) Round trip from Seattle to Paris is circa 5,000 NM each way.
(**) Ground transportation included.

 

 

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