Israeli COP26 delegation may cause over 40KG of CO2 emissions daily

PRIME MINISTER Naftali Bennett boards his flight to Glasgow for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), October 31, 2021
(photo credit: CHAIM TZACH/GPO)

While some world leaders arrived at the climate conference in electric cars, there is no indication that Bennett was one of those who chose to travel in this method.

Israel’s 120-strong delegation to Glasgow’s UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) is not staying in the city where the event is being held, but rather in Edinburgh, over 50 miles away.

While the majority of the delegation will make the commute each way in private buses, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and a few select advisers will be traveling by car instead.

Ahead of the conference, the Scottish government urged foreign delegations to use rail transport, as it is cleaner and more efficient than road travel.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average non-electric car produces 404 grams of CO2 per mile, meaning that each time the Israeli prime minister arrives at, and leaves, the Glasgow conference for Edinburgh, his vehicle will emit an estimated 20KG of CO2.

In contrast, a full bus will produce roughly 3KG of CO2 emissions for a journey of the same distance.

Oxfam activists with 'Big Heads' of Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson and U.S. President Joe Biden perform in a traditional Scottish pipe band, as the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) takes place in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, November 1, 2021. (credit: REUTERS/LEE SMITH)

While some world leaders, according to Reuters, arrived at the conference in electric cars in order to present a more environmentally friendly image to the world, there is no indication that Bennett was one of those who chose to travel by this method.

Israel’s delegation will not be the only one burning up fuel in order to discuss the urgent issue of non-renewable energy. Of the 25,000 delegates attending the conference, at least 5,000 will be staying in Edinburgh.

However, road travel may be the least of the climate-concerned citizen’s problems. With leaders from over 100 countries attending the conference, the carbon footprint will be undeniably large.

A Financial Times article found that in the past three UN climate conferences, long-distance travel accounted for 85% of the conferences’ total emissions.

Local transport, such as the journeys being made from Edinburgh to Glasgow, accounted on average, for 616 tons of CO2 during COP23, COP24, and COP25, and the trend is likely to continue with COP26.

Of the seven airports being used by various diplomats and business executives arriving in the UK, two cater exclusively to private jets, raising questions from, and eyebrows of, climate activists. Private jets have been found to be responsible for 50% of aviation emissions worldwide. Among leaders entering the country on private jets is US President Joe Biden on Air Force One.

While Bennett’s Wings of Zion prime ministerial plane stayed grounded, he chose to lease an ElAl plane exclusively for his delegation. The Boeing 737-900 can seat up to 188 people.

In total, 400 private jets will be flying into the UK for COP26, some belonging to politicians but most belonging to business executives. They will emit a total of 13,000 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.

Britain’s Boris Johnson also made the trip to Glasgow via private jet, despite the heavy criticism he faced for traveling by private jet to Cornwall for the G7 Summit earlier this year,when it would have been possible to undertake the journey in an electric car, without even needing to stop and recharge.

Commenting on the use of private jets by COP26 attendees, Matt Finch of the UK’s Transport and Environment campaign group said: “The average private jet emits two tons of CO2 for every hour in flight. It can’t be stressed enough how bad private jets are for the environment, it is the worst way to travel by miles. Our research has found that most journeys could easily be completed on scheduled flights.”

Breaking down the exact consequences of private flights, he explained that “the total carbon footprint of an ordinary citizen – including everywhere they travel and everything they consume – is around eight tons a year.

“So an executive or politician taking one long haul private flight will burn more CO2 than several normal people do in a year.”

After flights, the second largest cause of carbon emissions for COP26 will be accommodation, as it usually accounts for roughly half the domestic total. Old buildings in the UK have low ratings for energy efficiency, and it is not amiss to assume that more than a few delegates from around the globe will be staying in these buildings, and the conference itself will be held in several such venues. While the UK has pledged to use alternative green methods for heating instead of diesel generators, the emission total will still be significant.

Climate activists have commented on the perceived hypocrisy of world leaders, protesting outside airports and the conference venue in order to highlight the double standards.

Daniel Willis, climate campaigner at Global Justice Now, said: “Boris Johnson claims to be a climate leader, but he only seems interested in a COP26 that protects the interests of the wealthiest. It’s shameless pandering to the rich and will only lead to an exclusive, one-sided COP.”

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