Is business travel harmful for the environment?
And can business aviation restrictions halt climate change?
The question of whether restrictions on business aviation can help combat climate change has been a subject of public debate, particularly within the business community. It is worth noting that the majority of individual flights on small jets, accounting for about 90 percent, are not private trips but rather business travels to destinations that are either not served by commercial airlines or are difficult and time-consuming to reach.
Due to their higher cost compared to commercial flights, businesses and corporations only utilize these flights when necessary and urgent. As a result, the number of private jets remains relatively low, but they play a vital role, especially for decentralized business locations.
The entire European business aviation sector, including private flights, organ transportation, and rescue missions, contributes only 0.008 percent to European CO2 emissions. Therefore, the share of private flights in CO2 emissions is minuscule.
Business aviation embracing sustainable fuels
The business aviation sector is actively working to reduce its CO2 emissions further, primarily through the rapid and extensive adoption of carbon-neutral fuels such as Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF). SAF encompasses all sustainably produced fuels that do not rely on fossil fuels. This includes Power-to-Liquid (PtL) fuels and biofuels.
Biofuels can be derived from sources such as oil-rich and cellulose-rich plants or bio-waste. PtL fuels are produced by synthesizing a gas from hydrogen and carbon dioxide. Various processes can then convert the gas, plants, and bio-waste into aviation kerosene.
Greenpeace's call for restrictions of business travel
Greenpeace is advocating for restrictions on private jets in the EU, stating that "private jets and luxury emissions are currently unregulated in the EU, despite being the most climate-damaging and inequitable form of transportation per passenger and kilometer. Private jets cause up to 14 times more CO2 emissions per passenger than an average commercial aircraft and 50 times more than trains." Recently, Greenpeace published a report revealing record-high levels of climate-damaging private flights across Europe. A ban on these unnecessary luxury emissions is essential.
While the business aviation sector acknowledges the need to address climate change, the impact of private flights on overall CO2 emissions is minimal. The sector is actively working to reduce its carbon footprint by embracing sustainable aviation fuels. However, it is crucial for politicians and public figures to align their actions with their climate change rhetoric, considering the environmental impact and taxpayer costs associated with private jet travel. Stricter regulations and greater accountability can contribute to a more sustainable aviation industry.
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