High demand for private jets throws carbon emission goals talks out of the window

The business has been booming for some time for major private jets manufacturers, to the extent that firms have been unable to keep pace with skyrocketing demand since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

Last year, private plane use soared to its highest level on record. Aviation data research firm Wingx recorded 3.3 million business jet take-offs in 2021, the most for a single year and 7% more than the previous high in 2019.

Private jets are, by far, the most inefficient way to travel, and many have pointed out the hypocrisy of turning up to a summit on climate change on something that is contributing to its very cause.

Private jets are responsible for around 4% of all aviation emissions, according to a 2016 study.

Private jet demand has boomed during the pandemic as the wealthy took control of their travel. Yet, the luxury flight could have a limited runway as some buyers spend beyond their means and the sector presents a prime target for climate critics.

“A huge amount of fuel is used during takeoff and landing of a plane, no matter how many people you have on board. So an already polluting mode of transport (commercial aviation) becomes even worse (with private jets).”

Dr Debbie Hopkins, an expert in decarbonising transport at University of Oxford.

Private jets are unable to burn 100% sustainable fuels, which are normally made from biofuels. However, manufacturers, such as Boom Supersonic and Rolls Royce, are developing jet engines to burn 100% sustainable fuels.

This criticism around private jets comes as new research shows the luxury lifestyles of the wealthiest 1% could jeopardize targets to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.

A single private jet can emit two metric tons of carbon dioxide in just one hour.

Per capita, the richest 80 million people in the world will account for 16% of total emissions globally by 2030, up from 13% in 1990.

The carbon emissions of an 11-minute space flight are estimated to be at least 75 tons. Private jets generally produce significantly more emissions per passenger than commercial flights.

The study, commissioned by Oxfam, says the wealthy would need to cut their emissions by 97% so the world can stay on track to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees, as pledged in the 2015 Paris Agreement.