The use of private jets in Europe has increased by 64% in 2022 compared to 2021, reaching a record number of 572,806 flights, and carbon-dioxide emissions from private flights more than doubled, according to a Greenpeace report commissioned by Dutch environmental consultancy CE Delft.
The report analysed the use of private jets over the past 3 years, consisting of 118,756 flights in 2020, 350,078 flights in 2021 and 572,806 flights in 2022. The comparatively low number of flights in 2020 is explained by the Covid-19 pandemic being at its peak, which led to aviation experiencing a large dip due to travel warnings and multiple constraints on travelling as well as, probably, a reduced number of business meetings.
This is luxury travel by rich people who give the middle finger to current and future generations who are already feeling the impact of the climate crisis and will feel it even more in the future. Private jets often do routes that are perfectly doable by train.Joeri Thijs, Greenpeace Belgium spokesperson
Last year, the use of private jets increased worldwide, not just in Europe, as more people tried to avoid chaos at airports. “Vulnerable people are on the front lines of climate destruction and are the ones pushed into poverty by spiking fuel prices, but have done the least to cause these crises”, said Greenpeace EU transport campaigner Thomas Gelin. “It’s hugely unfair that rich people can wreck the climate this way, in just one flight polluting more than driving a car 23,000 kilometres.”
As soon as travel restrictions started lifting, not only has the number of private flights tripled, but the amount of CO2 emissions more than quadrupled in 2021 compared to 2022, from 354,690 tonnes to 1,637,623 tonnes. The uptrend continued in 2022, with a total of 3,385,538 tonnes of CO2 emissions coming from private aviation.
The United Kingdom, France and Germany are at the top of the list in number of private flights, which makes sense as these countries are important European business hubs. However, smaller countries with a lot of business activity like Switzerland, the Netherlands and Belgium are also among the top 10.
However, when ordered by the amount of emissions of private aviation, the list changes, Ireland and Portugal replacing Belgium and the Netherlands among the top 10, which could mean that flights departing from these countries are longer on average or use more heavy jets (less turboprop aircraft).
Last year, the most used flight route was Paris-London, followed by Nice-London and Paris-Geneva, the airports with the highest number of private flights being Nice Côte d’Azur Airport, Paris-Le Bourget Airport and Geneva Airport.
Following the concerning findings of the report, Greenpeace reissued a call on the EU and national governments to ban private jets as well as short-haul flights where a reasonable train connection already exists. France has already measures favouring rail connections over short-haul flights, while Belgium started taxing private and short haul flights more on 1 April.