The number of private jets has doubled in the last 20 years, despite being a symbol of luxury and opulence for the wealthy. This increase has led to higher emissions, posing a threat to the environment and climate.
According to a new report, the number of private jets increased from 9,895 in 2000 to 23,133 in 2022, an increase of 134%. In 2022 alone, more than 5.3 million private flights were registered, exacerbating the problem of climate change.
The Institute for Policy Studies has released a report titled “High Flyers: How Ultra-Rich Private Jet Travel Costs the Rest of Us and Burns Up Our Planet,” which sheds light on the growing market for private air travel and its negative impact on the atmosphere.
The report, co-authored by Chuck Collins, Omar Ocampo and Kalena Thomhave, draws attention to the clear link between rising wealth inequality and the rise in private jet ownership.
The number of privately owned jets has increased over the past two decades, with the global fleet growing 133 percent to more than 23,000. The volume of private flights has also increased significantly, with a record 5.3 million flights in 2020, 20% more than before the pandemic.
Private jets account for just 4 percent of aviation emissions, but this figure is disproportionate for the small number of passengers they carry, with the average private passenger creating at least ten times more pollution than a commercial one.
For example, in 2022 alone, Elon Musk‘s use of his four private planes generated 2,112 tons of carbon dioxide, 132 times the average carbon footprint of an American. Most private jets still use airports and commercial airspace, which means the public is subsidizing luxury air travel.
Private jets and climate change
Private jets emit at least ten times more pollution per passenger than commercial aircraft, creating significant environmental pressure.
The richest one percent of the world’s population is responsible for around 50% of aircraft emissions, and emissions from private jets have risen more than 23% since the start of the pandemic, despite only the 1% of the population uses them.
According to a report by the Institute for Policy Studies, the sale of private jets could hit a record this year, with many of the world’s richest people using them to travel.
One such example is Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who allegedly used his private jet almost every day in 2022, resulting in the consumption of 837,934 liters of jet fuel and emissions of 2,112 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent to 132 times the average carbon footprint of an American.
Although the average annual carbon footprint of an American is around 16 tons, in India it is only 1.9 tons. However, celebrities in India also have their own private jets.
Record-breaking private jet industry
Over the past two years, the private jet industry has experienced remarkable growth, with record dollar transactions and volumes. The global fleet has increased by 133%, reaching 23,133 by mid-2022, and there were 5.3 million business jet operations in 2022.
The size of the private jet market also grew from $32.3 billion in 2021 to $34,100 million in 2022 and is expected to continue to expand.
Many municipal airports in the US are funded by taxpayers but primarily serve private and corporate aircraft. Although they may not offer regular passenger service, they still receive subsidies for their airport runways.
Growing sales of private jets, which reached approximately $3.41 billion in 2022, highlights a concerning trend in the aviation industry. Although airplanes have made travel more convenient, their impact on the environment cannot be ignored.
In fact, the global aviation industry emits one billion tons of carbon dioxide annually, contributing significantly to climate change. With this in mind, it is crucial to hold private jet owners accountable for their carbon footprint.
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