As the World Economic Forum gets underway in Davos, Switzerland, this Thursday, the global elite is strategizing on how to best combat global warming and limit carbon emissions worldwide.
But with thousands of private jets ferrying the global glitterati to their alpine retreat this week, perhaps they should start by looking in the mirror.
An estimated 1,700 private aircraft are descending on the Swiss Alps — a record number that drove the Swiss Armed Forces to open up its Dübendorf military airbase to civilian traffic earlier this week.
Private jet operators across Europe are seeing a business boom, with flights on some carriers running from $10,000 to $15,000 an hour. Some companies are even throwing in free helicopter rides — another high-emission aircraft in high demand at Davos.
Climate scientists view air travel as the most costly per-person contributor to carbon emissions, with some estimates saying it accounts for 5 percent of “warming.” A round-trip flight from New York to Europe can emit 2 to 3 tons of carbon dioxide per person — and that’s a commercial flight, where the cost is shared with hundreds of other passengers.
Around 1,500 business executives and 40 heads of state are expected to attend the Forum, where tickets go for about $40,000. Among them are Oxfam director Winnie Byanyima, a World Economic Forum co-chair who is planning a series of Davos events highlighting the gap between the global elite and everybody else.
“Business as usual for the elite isn’t a cost-free option,” she said in a statement, which was issued at the same time Davos attendees jetted in from around the world.