Menu Menu

Greenpeace ranks European countries’ private jet activity

We’re well-accustomed to hearing about American billionaire celebrities and their carbon-spewing private jets lately, but which European countries are facilitating the most private jet departures? Greenpeace investigates.

You might think that because the general public now knows how emission-heavy private jets are, those privileged enough to charter them would be guilt-tripped into cutting back on their dirty habit.

Wrong. Analysis conducted by Greenpeace identified a 64 percent increase in private jet traffic in Europe during the year 2022.

This is a disappointingly high jump, considering we are in the middle of a climate emergency sparked and accelerated by carbon emissions, of which private flights are the highest polluting offenders.

The research found that one-quarter of the 572,800 jet journeys completed in Europe last year fell into the category of being ‘very short haul’. This means they covered a distance of less than 500km – a flight length that has recently been banned by France, The Netherlands, and Belgium.

So which countries are seeing the most private jet activity?

Greenpeace has identified one European nation as having the most departures of private jets by a longshot. The UK, with a staggering 90,256 lifting off last year, is a prime offender.

This amounts to a private jet taking off from the UK every six minutes – emitting 501,077 tons of CO2 in total, according to the report. Even worse, one route frequently covered in this nation takes a mere half hour to travel by bicycle. Sigh.

And although we love a dose of good news on Friday, the truth is that UK likely won’t slow down anytime soon. It recently boosted short-haul domestic flight routes for small airlines and reduced travel tax on domestic journeys.

The second biggest offender is France with 84,885 departing flights, though this is expected to fall in coming years thanks to the government’s new ban on short-haul domestic flights. The aim is to reduce national emissions and encourage the use of train travel between cities.

Germany and Italy follow close behind with private departures of more than 50,000 each. Behind these two nations are Spain, Switzerland, Australia, and Greece respectively, with numbers falling between 45,000 – 14,000.

Can we ban short haul flights?

When you think about the fact that 50 percent of all CO2 emissions released into the atmosphere in 2018 were emitted by 1 percent of the world’s population, it’s not hard to dismiss the argument that maybe things are getting out of hand.

Campaigners advocating to get private jets banned point to this fact, along with the growing amount of scientific evidence that paints us as heading straight for catastrophic global heating.

Couple these facts with the reality faced by communities based in the Global South – who emit the least amount of emissions and may have never even boarded a commercial airliner– and it is arguably morally irresponsible to enable this level of activity to continue.

Greenpeace campaigner Klara Maria Schenk said, ‘Over 60 per cent of the oil used globally is for transport. Reducing oil-powered transport immediately is a no-brainer, starting with a ban on ultra-polluting private jets.’

The report is especially interesting when it ranks European countries on the amount of CO2 emitted per flight, the number of flights per capita, as well as the most popular routes taken by private jets.

You can click here to see it in full and find out where your home nation places.