Please use scheduled aircraft instead of your jet

Zuletzt geändert am 6. September 2019

This is one of many tips on how to reduce your carbon footprint.

Today I discovered an interesting way to reduce your CO2 emissions. Unfortunately, the target group of this post is relatively small. But I don’t want to leave anything untouched. Compared to the decommissioning of your tumble dryer, this tip would have much more impact. So, when you fly, just fly with a scheduled plane, not your private plane. This would save a lot of CO2.

Seriously, according to an estimate in an essay in Nature Climate Change, which is also available on Researchgate, the 0.54% of the richest people have a CO2 emissions of 3.9 billion tons of CO2/year. This corresponds to 13.6% of all lifestyle-dependent CO2 emissions. By contrast, the 50% poorest people have 10% of emissions. The authors of the study interviewed three super-rich families, each with more than a million dollars in share ownership. In addition, real estate and valuables. Two families from the US and one from South Korea. On top of this, a pilot from Central Europe who flies customers on private planes was interviewed.

CO2 emissions from the super-rich. Three families were examined in one study. Otto 2019. Shift the focus from the super-poor to the super-rich. Nature Climate Change 9. p. 83.

The total emissions amounted to 129.3 tons of CO2 per year (for a two person household). This is 65 tons of CO2 per year per capita. For comparison: US average 22 tons, German average 11.61 tons.

CO2 emmissions per capita in countries. Source UBA (German Environment Agency), 2019

The article proposes solutions. Among others:

Frequent air travel is a primary contributor to hugely above-average emissions of the super-rich that could be substantially reduced by avoiding using private jets and just flying less.

Otto 2019. Shift the focus from the super-poor to the super-rich. Nature Climate Change 9. p. 83.

So, in case somebody belonging to the 0.54% should read my blog: Here is my request: Fly with a normal scheduled plane. You can get to know nice people in business clas as well and on an economy flight you certainly get completely new perspectives on life in general and humanity in particular. Train travel is, of course, even more exciting!

If you really belong to the 0.54%, you will not like another suggestion of the authors. They propose levying inheritance tax and diverting revenue to climate funds. But perhaps this proposal will be forgotten again if you do it like Bill and Melinda Gates, like the Otto Group or Bosch and support ecological projects yourself. And the article also mentions that the posh and rich act as a role model for us ordinary folks. Just put cool solar cells on the roof of your house (it is big enough).

See you! On the train.

Addendum after sleeping about it: The authors of the study say that CO2 taxes would not stop the super-rich from flying. “Heavy environmental taxation, as commonly discussed, is unlikely to effect the consumption behaviour of the super-rich, who can afford to continue polluting.” (p. 83) One could, however, link taxes to aircraft utilisation. If an aircraft flies with three people instead of 500, other taxes are due. Similar models exist for the taxation of cars, where size also plays a role. Of course, the regulations have to be developed with a sense of proportion, because even scheduled flights sometimes fly back empty.

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