There is outrage after Jeff Bezos’ $65 million Gulf Stream jet led a 400-strong stream of private planes into Scottish environmental summit COP26.
World leaders and dignitaries from all over the globe, including Prince Albert of Monaco and a host of “green” CEOs landed in Glasgow and Edinburgh over the weekend, creating what one Scottish news outlet described as “an extraordinary traffic jam [which] forced empty planes to fly 30 miles to find space to park.”
As President Biden spoke at the anti-global warming conference on Monday, other notables expected to fly in for the summit — billed as a make-or-break moment to take action on limiting carbon emissions — included Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Gates and the singer Ellie Goulding.
Matt Finch, of the UK’s Transport and Environment campaign group, told Scotland’s Sunday Mail: “The average private jet, and we are not talking Air Force One, emits two tons of CO2 for every hour in flight.
“It can’t be stressed enough how bad private jets are for the environment, it is the worst way to travel by miles. Our research has found that most journeys could easily be completed on scheduled flights.
“Private jets are very prestigious but it is difficult to avoid the hypocrisy of using one while claiming to be fighting climate change.”
He added, “To put it in context, the total carbon footprint of an ordinary citizen — including everywhere they travel and everything they consume — is around eight tons a year.
“So an executive or politician taking one long haul private flight will burn more CO2 than several normal people do in a year.”
Aviation sources confirmed to the outlet that more than 400 private aircraft would likely carry over 1,000 world leaders, business execs and their staff to the talks.
The Sunday Mail also estimated that these jets will blast 13,000 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere, which will generate more global warming gas than 1,600 Scots burn through in a year.
Other world leaders at the summit include Britain’s Prince Charles, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and former Vice President Al Gore.
“If we don’t get serious about climate change today, it will be too late for our children,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said at the opening, after comparing the task for COP26 attendees to James Bond saving the world.
But Britain’s Secretary of State Liz Truss defended the estimate of 400 planes flying into Glasgow ahead of the Cop26 this weekend, saying that “It’s really important that we do have people face to face.”
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Truss said: “I think everybody who’s ever done a Zoom call knows that they’re quite useful for some things.
“But when you really get into crunch negotiations. When you want to look somebody in the eye and talk to them face to face, you do need to meet in person. And this is really critical.”
She added, “World leaders are going to have to make some tough decisions about what’s going on in their own countries. They’re going to have to commit to things they didn’t necessarily want to when they arrived at the conference.
“And that’s why it’s really important that we do have people face to face and these negotiations can take place. We can make a real difference.”
The climate crisis is here. #COP26 must be a turning point to protect people and the planet.
Leaders, the world is watching and urging you to rise to this moment. There’s no time to lose. #ActNow. https://t.co/zruhUorFCX @UN @antonioguterres @COP26 pic.twitter.com/U0Q7ijYNOf
— Leonardo DiCaprio (@LeoDiCaprio)
Climate campaigner Leonardo DiCaprio took to Twitter on Monday, writing, “The climate crisis is here. #COP26 must be a turning point to protect people and the planet.
“Leaders, the world is watching and urging you to rise to this moment. There’s no time to lose.”
Reps for DiCaprio didn’t comment, neither did reps for Bezos — who also just caused controversy by partying with Bill Gates on a mega-yacht off the coast of Turkey.
But sources said DiCaprio was one VIP attendee who flew commercial to the conference. He was spotted at Heathrow airport in London connecting flights, a source exclusively told Page Six.
In July 2019 there was a similar outcry when A-listers arrived to the Google summit in Sicily — to discuss climate change — in a convoy of private jets and mega-yachts.
Guests including former President Barack Obama, Prince Harry, DiCaprio and Katy Perry converged to the Sicilian seaside for the mega-party dubbed Google Camp, while local media reported 114 private jets were scheduled to arrive.