Log In

Reset Password

Opinion: ‘Eco-hypocrites’ leave their carbon footprint

John Wooden, legendary basketball coach for the UCLA Bruins, once said that the most powerful leadership tool you have is your own personal example.

Many of the 400 world leaders and dignitaries who traveled to the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, more commonly referred to as COP26, in Glasgow, Scotland, obviously ignored that wisdom.

The transportation sector generates the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions. A conservative commentator saw the hypocrisy in many of the attendees, dubbing the climate conference a “gas-guzzling get-together.”

One Scottish news reporter covering the recent summit also noted that the emission-pumping conferencegoers created “an extraordinary traffic jam which forced empty planes to fly 30 miles to find space to park.”

Private jets are the worst way to travel for the environment. Flying to a global summit in your own jet may appear prestigious but it makes little sense to the world if you’re taking one to a climate change summit!

The executive or politician taking one long-haul private flight will burn more CO2 into the atmosphere - generating more global warming gas - than several normal people do in a year.

The climate summit itself had little effect when you consider that China, the world’s top emitter of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, was a no-show. A few days ahead of the summit, Beijing submitted a revised plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions before the end of this current decade and promised it would aim for “carbon neutrality” before the year 2060.

Critics, however, said that the country that produces 27 percent of global emissions failed to go far enough. Joanna Lewis, an expert on climate and energy at Georgetown University, called China’s revised goal “disappointing” since it offered nothing new.

America’s delegation included President Joe Biden; Amazon founder and chairman Jeff Bezos; and John Kerry, the former secretary of state who became Biden’s first special envoy for climate.

Biden’s trip to Europe was a fuel guzzling and carbon-spewing extravaganza. Air Force One alone costs nearly a quarter-million dollars for every hour in the sky. The president and his entourage, meanwhile, required four planes, a Marine One helicopter and an 85-vehicle motorcade that took them first to Rome, then onto Edinburgh and then to Glasgow.

Biden’s contingent pumped out an estimated 2.2 million pounds of carbon emissions during their European junket to help save the planet from the kind of fuel overindulgences they themselves were committing.

Bezos, one of the richest people on the planet, told conferees that private industry must play a central role in saving the planet. He also pledged $2 billion to restoring natural habitats and transforming food systems.

Most of the mainstream press failed to report that Bezos arrived at the summit in his $65 million Gulf Stream jet which emits two tons of CO2 for every hour in flight.

John Kerry often flies his carbon-spewing private jet to his homes in Sun Valley, D.C. and Los Angeles. He also takes short flights between Martha’s Vineyard and Boston, a two-and-a-half-hour drive by car.

Kerry defenders argue that these short junkets are minuscule in the big picture of climate change.

Nigel Farage, the former leader of the U.K.’s Independence Party, had a different take on Kerry and the rest of the Biden entourage. He described the summitgoers, many of whom parked their private jets, then jumped into their chauffeur-driven cars and vans - many with their engines idling - as “ecohypocrites.”

Another social media comment, directed at Bezos, stated: “Nothing quite shows your commitment to climate action like flying to #COP26 in a private jet, and burning a few million liters of rocket fuel through the atmosphere every 5 minutes to show off to your mates. Eh Jeff?”

By Jim Zbick | tneditor@tnonline.com

The foregoing opinions do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editorial Board or Times News LLC.