By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) – Hundreds of private planes transport leaders and their staff to the United Nations’ ‘COP26’ climate summit where ordinary people are told to limit travel or cycle to fight “global warming.”
Aviation monitoring groups and officials confirmed that up to 400 private jets ferry world leaders and top business executives to the gathering in Glasgow, Scotland.
Among those flying private are save-the-world preachers U.S. President Joe Biden, tech giant Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Britain’s Prince Charles, and the European Union’s chief executive Ursula von der Leyen, Worthy News monitored.
Johnson was accused of “staggering hypocrisy” after taking a private jet back from the COP26 climate summit to attend a private members’ club dinner in London.
The same trip would have taken him four and a half hours by a less polluting train, but a spokesman cited “time constraints” for his decision.
It wasn’t clear the urgency for the world leader to participate in the Tuesday night dinner at The Garrick Club in London’s West End, a reunion of Daily Telegraph journalists.
Johnson, a former Telegraph columnist, was pictured leaving the exclusive club at around 10 pm escorted to the door by Charles Moore, his former editor at the paper.
Earlier, the prime minister told a roundtable of leaders of developing nations: “When it comes to tackling climate change, words without action, without deeds are absolutely pointless.”
A similar message came from Prince Charles, who took a separate private jet to the summit to warn the world of catastrophe unless people changed their lifestyle.
While Charles spoke, U.S. President Joe Biden, nicknamed “Sleepy Joe” by critics, appeared to fall asleep before an aid whispered in his ear briefly, video footage showed.
Biden, who has committed himself to punish fossil fuel industries, arrived with the polluting Air Force One and traveled in an extensive convoy of scores of cars to Glasgow.
Amazon’s Bezos flew in on his $65 million Gulfstream jet.
A Bezos Earth Fund spokesperson claimed the billionaire uses sustainable aviation fuel and offsets all carbon emissions from his flights. The other leaders made similar “offsetting” arguments, but critics expressed their doubts.
The president of the EU’s executive Ursula von der Leyen, who has made “green” policy a cornerstone of her policies, also prefers private aircraft over commercial flights.
She has come under pressure after it was revealed that she took a private jet for a 50-kilometer (31 miles) trip even as “human-caused climate change” talks were underway at COP26.
The controversy about her Vienna-Bratislava trip emerged after Von der Leyen urged summit delegates “to do whatever it takes now to limit global warming to 1.5°C.”
British newspaper The Telegraph revealed she used a private jet for more than half of her official visits (18 out of 34) since taking office in December 2019.
Her private jet journey between the Austrian capital Vienna and Slovakia’s capital Bratislava would take just over one hour by car or train. Von der Leyen also relied on private jets to travel between other nearby destinations such as Paris and London.
In response to the revelations, a spokesperson claimed these trips were “not feasible with commercial flights,” adding that “an air taxi is only used when necessary, to enable presence at meetings in various places on a very packed schedule.”
Similar arguments came from the other criticized leaders. In Biden’s case, there were also security considerations for using Air Force One, which ensures continued governing of what is still the world’s leading superpower.
However, the advocacy group Transport and Environment criticized private jets’ outsize environmental impact.
Its May report claimed private planes were five to 14 times as polluting as commercial planes on a per passenger basis and 50 times as polluting as trains.
“It can’t be stressed enough how bad private jets are for the environment — it is the worst way to travel by miles,” the group said in published remarks.
“Private jets are very prestigious, but it is difficult to avoid the hypocrisy of using one while claiming to be fighting climate change.”
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