how much greenhouse gases do private jets produce?

Private jets make up more than 4% of all aviation greenhouse emissions – producing more greenhouse gases than the country of Denmark. If you’re looking to understand why private jets are so harmful to the Earth, read on.

Stay on the Internet for long enough and you’ll probably catch wind of the recent news surrounding celebrities and private jets. With Taylor Swift and Kylie Jenner under fire along with many other celebrities, you might wonder: why are private jets so harmful?

If you aren’t too good with numbers but still want to understand the impact that large amounts of carbon dioxide emissions has on our planet, stick around. Because we’re about to hand it to you simply.

The aviation industry’s climate impact has been rising disproportionately – no doubt for its luxurious nature. But it seems that the world is united on one thing when it comes to private jets: they are one of the worst ways to travel. 

According to the European Transport & Environment report of 2021, in just an hour, one private jet can emit two tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2). Whereas the average person in the EU emits the emissions equivalent of 8.2 tonnes of CO2 over the course of an entire year. And that’s only carbon dioxide. 

However, the United Kingdom’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) notes that in order to truly “capture the maximum climate impact” of any flight, we’d also have to take into account the non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions released by planes at high altitude. According to a study, private jets alone emitted more than 33 million tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2016. That’s more than Denmark’s 2016 emissions! 

Sure, private jets are much smaller, which means less greenhouse emissions per flight compared to a commercial flight. However, private jets carry so few people at a time that by taking a private jet, you could be producing up to 14 times more greenhouse gases per passenger on a commercial plane.

The worst part? The use of private jets is booming. Since the pandemic saw private flights still taking off (while commercial planes stayed grounded), private flights have become more popular. And it’s no wonder – passengers got to stay safe in their own covid-19 bubble while enjoying luxury and travel. According to aviation data research firm Wingx, there were 3.3 million private flights in 2021 alone, the highest on record.

how this affects the Earth.

Greenhouse gases are a normal part of the Earth – we need them to survive. They trap enough heat from the sun and keep Earth habitable for us (and everything else!), while the rest of the heat escapes to space. 

However, as humans produce increasingly large amounts of greenhouse gases, the Earth absorbs larger amounts of solar energy. This keeps more heat near Earth’s surface, causing the sea levels to rise, disease, and changing ecosystems that support all of Earth’s diversity. (Read more on how greenhouse gases affect the Earth here.) 

Simply put, as more greenhouse gases are emitted, Earth gets warmer – which causes more climate disasters. Of course, it’s important to remember that this is a very basic laydown of a big picture – but it is an important spell out and reminder. Because if private jets make up 4% of the aviation industry’s greenhouse gas emissions alone, we’re looking at a possible way to push aviation and travel in a more sustainable direction. 

It’s the same concept as taking a bus to reduce your carbon footprint over driving your own car. A bus might produce larger amounts of carbon dioxide compared to a car. But if 20 people opt to take the bus instead of their car, that’s 20 less cars off the road – but still one bus! 

celebrities & private jets: hope for climate change?

Even though the number of private flights increases, and callouts against aforementioned celebrities’ habits die down, the fight against global warming doesn’t. What is encouraging though, is the knowledge that climate ‘stigma’ and the following celebrity callouts, might just be the reminder we need for positive, sustainable change. 

Enjoyed this article? Check out how businesses are fighting for sustainability in Singapore, or how DHL is moving toward greener deliveries.

siti ayeeshah zaki

Writer, dreamer and explorer. When she’s not writing for Strada Visual Lab, Ayeeshah spends her time reading, skating and living life to her definition of fullest.

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