The number of private jet flights in Europe increased by 64 per cent last year, and resulting carbon emissions more than doubled compared to 2021, according to research commissioned by Greenpeace.
A similar pattern occurred in Ireland with 6,671 private jet flights departed from Irish airports last year, up 159 per cent on 2021, its analysis shows – this caused 67,900 tonnes of carbon emissions; up 246 per cent on the previous year.
On average, private jet flights from Ireland emitted 10.2 tonnes of CO2 per flight, the same as emitted by a petrol car being driven 40,000km – equivalent to the Earth’s circumference.
Greenpeace has called for the EU and national governments to ban private jets as part of a plan to tackle the climate crisis in a more equitable way. Private jets are five to 14 times more polluting per passenger than commercial flights, and 50 times more polluting than trains.
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The average carbon emissions of each private jet flight in Europe in 2022 was 5.9 tonnes of CO2, more than driving an average petrol car for 23,000km – or driving from Paris to Rome 16 times. The research found 55 per cent of private flights in Europe last year were for distances under 750 kilometres.
Greenpeace EU transport campaigner Thomas Gelin said: “Vulnerable people are on the front lines of climate destruction, and are the ones pushed into poverty by spiking fuel prices, but have done the least to cause these crises.
“It’s hugely unfair that rich people can wreck the climate this way, in just one flight polluting more than driving a car 23,000 kilometres. Pollution for wasteful luxury has to be the first to go, we need a ban on private jets.”
The research published on Thursday – conducted by Dutch environmental consultancy CE Delft – found that European private jet traffic has soared over the past three years. The tally rose from 118,756 private flights in 2020, to 350,078 in 2021 and 572,806 in 2022, emitting more than 5.3 million tonnes of CO2 in total.
In all three years analysed, the route between Dublin and London was the most frequently used route for private aviation. Greenpeace noted the route can be travelled in a bit more than seven hours by ferry and train, while it has more than 40 commercial flights available each way per day.
The busiest airports for private jet flights in Ireland were Dublin and Shannon, which together were responsible for 82 per cent of all Irish private jet flights analysed by the report.
The shortest route for private aviation with 10 or more flights per year was between Shannon and Kerry airport; for all three years.
Countries with the most private jet flights in Europe in 2022 were France, the UK and Germany. The most popular destinations were Nice (Côte d’Azur), Paris and Geneva.
The busiest private jet route in Europe last year was Paris-London, with an average of nine private flights between those cities each day. This route has a direct train connection that takes just over two hours with 14 trains running each way per day.
The French government has been pushing for the EU to tighten rules on private jets, short-haul flights and very cheap flights. At a meeting of EU transport ministers in December, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Portugal expressed support for France’s call.
Greenpeace is calling for an EU ban on private jets, including a ban on short-haul flights where a reasonable train connection already exists. Sinn Féin Senator Lynn Boylan has proposed levying an emissions tax on such flights.
Private flights departing from Ireland have increased from 858 flights in 2020 to 6,671 in 2022. Dublin Airport had 3,445 departing private flights the same year. The shortest used route for private aviation was between Kerry County Airport and Shannon (70.38km).