The Corner

Energy & Environment

A Climate Change Proposal That Would Terrify Democratic Presidential Candidates

From left: Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren at the Democratic presidential debate in Houston, Texas, September 12, 2019. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

They’re a bunch of hard-left loons, but you have to give the guys at Jacobin a little credit for recognizing the irony that “the world leaders who fly around the world in private jets are the ones who are tasked with coming together to discuss the climate crisis.” A lot of environmentalists and climate change activists prefer to hand-wave away the high carbon costs of the luxurious lifestyles of their allied celebrities and political leaders, and instead choose to debate the morality of having children, push for institutions to ban beef, and encourage people to eat bugs instead. Somehow it’s never Leonardo Decaprio’s jet, David Geffen’s $400 million super yacht, or Prince Harry’s helicopter that’s the problem, it’s your Big Mac and SUV.

The contradiction of celebrities and millionaires using 114 private jets to fly to recent a high-profile “Google Camp” on the climate crisis was too glaring for usually friendly media to ignore.

Aaron Eisenberg, a climate activist with the NYC Democratic Socialists of America, has had enough. He’s no longer willing to pretend he doesn’t see the small fleet of private jets that will be used to bring people to  next week’s U.N. Climate Action Summit, and he proposes a bold solution:

Fortunately, no one needs a private jet. We should ban them.

Private jets carry an average of just over four people per flight, and they fly empty 40 percent of the time. They are the ultimate example of excessive consumption. Private jets are a prime reason why the richest 1 percent have a carbon footprint of 175 times someone in the bottom 10 percent. Banning them would be a first step toward putting the interests of the many before those of a few.

Can we get the Democratic presidential candidates talking about this at their fundraisers in the Hamptons, Hollywood, and Aspen?

It will never happen, of course. You’ll spend decades trying to suck a cold drink through a rapidly dissolving paper straw before the royal family, big-time executives, Hollywood studio executives, and movie stars start flying commercial.

But let’s acknowledge that the day that celebrities, billionaires, executives, and government officials did give up their private jets, we would be convinced that they really do believe that the climate change is an enormous problem that requires personal sacrifice.

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