The President of the European Commission has been accused of contributing to the climate crisis after it was revealed she had flown aboard a private jet on more than half of her official trips since taking up office, according to The Telegraph.
An analysis made by the newspaper found that Ursula von der Leyen has flown aboard a private jet on 18 out of her 34 official trips since taking up office as the EU’s top official in December 2019, despite making promises for carbon-neutrality in the area by 2050.
The shortest of these ‘air taxis’ was a 31-mile journey between Vienna and Bratislava, as part of her tour of European capitals to sign off on COVID-19 recovery plans.
She took the same private plane for a 320-mile roundtrip between Lisbon and Madrid.
A source insisted the trips were “not feasible with commercial flights.”
The investigation also found that a team of European commissioners, including the Mrs von der Leyen, have twice chartered private planes for the 31-minute flight to Strasbourg, for meetings in the European Parliament.
Experts say that private jets emit as much as 20 times more carbon dioxide per passenger mile than the average commercial flight.
EU rules dictate that officials are allowed to take “air taxis” in the event of there being no viable commercial alternatives, or if there are “scheduling constraints” or security concerns.
Helena Bennett, senior policy adviser at Green Alliance, said: “Private jets are a disaster for the climate. A single-one private flight emits two tonnes of carbon emissions, which is a quarter of the carbon produced by the average European in a whole year.
“From presidents and prime ministers jet setting around the world to business people flying to conferences that could be done over Zoom, we need to travel more sustainably.
“There are many alternative modes that can be used by the wealthy and important, including trains and coaches, when necessary, economy class flights, which are responsible for far fewer emissions per person.”
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