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Travelling to COP27 by private jet - is this the best choice of transport to travel a climate change summit?

Vicki Woolven

10th November 2022

There has been criticism on social media of delegates arriving at the COP27 United Nations Climate Change Conference, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt - and quite rightly so! But just how bad is this form of transport?

Private jets carrying conference delegates have flown into Cairo and Sharm el-Sheikh from over 40 different airports, including 9 from the UK and several from Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, where hundreds of environmental activists stopped private jets leaving by sitting in front of their wheels and riding around the airfield on bicycles.

Emissions per kilometre travelled are significantly higher for private jets than any other form of transport - although it varies according to the size of the plan, engine efficiency and number of passengers being carried.

If our COP27 delegates had opted for a commercial flight from Amsterdam to Egypt, assuming they travelled premium class, their carbon emissions would have been about half a tonne each - a opposed to at least 3 tonnes each travelling on a private jet.

Read more about the emissions here -

The UK prime minister and foreign secretary arrived in an adapted RAF Voyager aircraft that is a version of the Airbus A330-MRTT - but according to a government spokesperson: "This delegation travelled on one of the most carbon-efficient planes of its size in the world and carbon emissions from these flights are also offset."

The Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit's international lead told BBC News that focusing on world leaders taking private jets to COP27 was "missing the point". "The emissions are negligible compared to the impact of decisions and commitments made at these summits," he said. "If you want emissions to come down, you want leaders in the room and media, scientists and stakeholders asking the important questions."

Vicki Woolven

Vicki Woolven is Subject Lead for Key Stage 4 Humanities at tutor2u. Vicki previously worked as a Head of Geography and Sociology for many years, leading her department to be one of the GA's first Centres of Excellent, and has been a content writer, senior examiner and local authority Key Practitioner for Humanities.

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