People tend to envy those who own private jets. They can fly anywhere in the world, any time they want. Such unfettered freedom may look good superficially, but unless carbon offsets for private jets are used, the greenhouse gas emissions make them a serious danger to the health of the planet.
Despite the risk, global interest in these “personal planes” is growing. Fortunately, you have numerous alternatives for mitigating and offsetting the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from every mile of your private flights. By using tree planting offsets for private jets, you can ensure you are flying climate neutral.
Read on to find out how…
The Environmental Burden of Flying
For many people, a private jet symbolizes wealth and fortune, and perhaps even fame. Instead of being limited by the confines of commercial air travel, you can hop in your jet and take off to your dream destination, nearly any time you want.
Although owning a private jet may seem to be a vital option for releasing yourself from the constraints of public flights, they do impose a massive environmental burden.
In 2019, commercial aviation accounted for 918 million metric tons (about 1 billion tons) of carbon dioxide emissions.1
Despite the industry’s ongoing efforts to improve the sustainability of aircrafts and flight practices, this number represented a 29% rise in emissions since 2013. The vast majority of these (85%) come from passenger transport.1
Experts estimate that each passenger emits about 90 g of CO2 per passenger-kilometer traveled. However, this isn’t always the case. The total greenhouse gases (GHGs) you emit during your flight depend, in part, on where you sit.1
For instance, researchers found that passengers in premium seating (i.e., first and business classes) emitted 2.6-4.3 times more CO2 per kilometer than economy flyers on specific aircraft.1 This is because the seats are more dispersed, which means each passenger is responsible for a larger portion of that flight’s CO2 emissions.
So with all this considered, how much more damage can private jets inflict on the earth’s ecosystems?
How Private Jets Contribute to Aviation Emissions
In recent years, the global demand for private jets has risen, a trend that may continue, leading to even higher GHG emissions levels. A 2019 Honeywell report showed that the “business jet” industry was booming, marked by a forecast of 7,600 projected jet deliveries over the next decade.2
This industry’s rapid expansion could have a disastrous effect on the environment for several reasons. For instance, consider the fact that only 1% of people are responsible for 50% of the world’s aviation emissions, or half a billion tons of CO2.3
Currently, the U.S. is home to the world’s largest “business aircraft” market, having nearly 21,900 jets in operation as of 2019. Another major aviation emissions contributor, Europe, had only 4,159.
Given the devastating impacts private jets, including business aircraft, currently impose on the global environment, adding another 7,600 – more than all private jets in all of Europe – could deal irreversible damage to the atmosphere.
There is even more potential for damage when you consider potential discrepancies in naming conventions when discussing this aviation industry sector. For example, Statista defines “business aircraft” as “any general aviation aircraft for a business purpose.”4
This excludes numerous private jets. Such generalizations can skew perspectives on emissions estimates for this sector since “celebrities and other members of the richest 1 percent of the population” use them for other purposes than business.5
One-fifth of Honeywell’s predicted 7,600 upcoming jet deliveries were expected to go to this demographic. The Guardian reported that most of the use would entail flying between homes and transporting top executives across the world.5
Currently, there are about 4,600 jets in operation for these purposes – making up about 15-25 percent of the general private jet market, each of them emitting anywhere from 10-40 times as much CO2 as a single commercial flight passenger.5
Yet, even the areas responsible for the highest private jet emissions aren’t always looking to buy new aircraft.
Honeywell gave this snapshot of the industry in various geographic regions, showing that the industry fluctuates year-to-year. The ebb and flow underlying the private jet market may open up new opportunities for more sustainable innovation.
Global Interest in Private Jets
According to the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), the United States has one of the world’s three largest passenger flight markets, along with the European Union (EU) and China. The U.S. accounts for 23 percent of the world’s aviation CO2, equaling about 179 million metric tons (about 197 million tons).1
And yet, in 2019, the whole of North America persisted in its plans to purchase all-new private jets over the next five years, despite overall “new jet purchase plans” falling by two percentage points between 2018 and 2019.2
Furthermore, Honeywell predicted that most (64 percent) of the global demand for new jets would come from this region, sustaining North America’s position as the world’s biggest private jet CO2 emitter.6
Europe was the next in line, accounting for about 18 percent of the world’s demand for private jets. This is also bad news for the global climate, as the European Union and the United Kingdom also have emissions-heavy passenger air travel markets.
In general, a Transport & Environment (T&E) report shows that Europe’s private jet emissions are rising much faster than those from commercial airline travel. Between 2005 and 2019, the amount of CO2 released by these aircraft grew by 31 percent.8
These countries accounted for about 152 MT (about 168 million tons) and 31.8 MT (about 35 million tons) in 2019, respectively.1 Yet, as private jet purchases are expected to rise here, Britain in particular has been called out for being “the worst culprit for private air travel pollution in Europe.”7
The consequences of the expanding market are unprecedented. T&E states that private jets are 10 times as carbon-intensive as commercial airliners, and pollute the environment 50 times more than trains. As global demand for these aircraft continues to grow, sustainable innovation is more crucial than ever before.8
Making Private Jets Greener
Because of their devastating environmental impact, private jets have become a significant point of contention between environmentalists and “the 1 percent.” Yet experts believe that collaboration, not resentment, will nurture a greener future for the globe.9
As Andrew Murphy, T&E Aviation Director, told Euronews, “As private jet owners have an average wealth of €1.3 billion [about USD 1.5 billion], the report suggests that they could be part of the solution.”7
Wealth and access to private air travel are not necessarily bad things, in and of themselves. Yet, when used irresponsibly, these assets can inflict severe, perhaps irreparable, damage to Earth’s ecosystems. To curb future environmental devastation and reduce your carbon footprint, T&E offers the following suggestions for “greening” the private jet industry:8
- Countries should consider implementing a carbon tax system for private jets, along with flight taxes that use fossil fuels.
- Individuals who own, operate, or use private jets should commit to a “substantial reduction” in their use.
- When newer, more sustainable technological alternatives emerge, using a private jet should be banned if the alternative doesn’t add more than 2 hours and 30 minutes of travel time.
Perhaps the best thing you can do if you own a private jet, or use one occasionally, is to find the best carbon offset programs. No matter where you live, or your flight destinations, offsetting programs allow you to neutralize the atmospheric damage wrought by your personal plane, making your flight climate neutral. Some of the most effective carbon offset projects include:
- Afforestation/Reforestation: Forests are one of the best tools the world has for reversing climate change. Projects in this category focus on planting trees where they are most needed, restoring Earth’s natural ability to filter harmful gases from its atmosphere and providing habitats for endangered animals.
- Humanitarian: There are a plethora of options for this category of offsets, but a common choice is replacing stoves. Many communities worldwide use plant biomass to power stoves, exposing people to GHGs. Purchasing offsets is an excellent way to help provide these communities with eco-friendly stoves that emit less smoke, reducing indoor pollution.
Whether the preferred private jet emissions mitigation method is paying a carbon tax, investing in sustainable innovation, or anything in-between, the private jet industry must move swiftly. As global interest in these aircraft continues to rise, operators and owners must take the initiative to offset their climate impacts, before their emissions surpass those from commercial aviation.
Take Flight Into Carbon Neutrality
Unfortunately for the environment, private jets’ emissions are on the rise, soaring past the increase from commercial aviation. Since these aircraft can be several times more carbon-intensive than commercial airbuses, it’s high time to develop sustainable alternatives to private jet travel.
Fortunately, there are several options for private jet users to make their mode of transportation much more eco-friendly, especially if they incorporate carbon offsets into their environmental plan.
Until the world devises an effective plan for mitigating private jet emissions, it’s best to take matters into your own hands, with carbon offsets for private jets. Calculate your carbon footprint now with an ecological footprint calculator, and start offsetting your jet’s impacts right away.
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1Graver, B., Rutherford, D., & Zheng, S. (2020). CO2 emissions from commercial aviation: 2013, 2018, and 2019. The International Council on Clean Transportation. Retrieved August 8, 2021, from https://theicct.org/publications/co2-emissions-commercial-aviation-2020
2Honeywell. (2019, October 20). Honeywell forecasts 7,600 new business jet deliveries over next decade valued at $248 billion. Retrieved August 8, 2021, from https://www.honeywell.com/us/en/press/2019/10/honeywell-forecasts-7600-new-business-jet-deliveries-over-next-decade-valued-at-248-billion
3Bannon, E. (2021, May 27). Private jets: Can the super-rich supercharge zero-emission aviation? Transport & Environment. Retrieved August 8, 2021, from https://www.transportenvironment.org/publications/private-jets-can-super-rich-supercharge-zero-emission-aviation
4Mazareanu, E. (2021, April 27). Topic: Business aviation market in the United States. Statista. Retrieved August 8, 2021, from https://www.statista.com/topics/4604/business-aviation-market-in-the-united-states/
5Neate, R. (2019, October 27). Super-rich fuelling growing demand for private Jets, report finds. The Guardian. Retrieved August 8, 2021, from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/27/super-rich-fuelling-growing-demand-for-private-jets-report-finds
6Campbell, M. (2021, June 3). Private jet pollution: Who is the worst in Europe? euronews. Retrieved August 8, 2021, from https://www.euronews.com/green/2021/06/03/the-worst-country-in-europe-for-private-jet-pollution-is-revealed
7Honeywell. (2020, October 6). Honeywell forecasts business jet usage will recover to 2019 levels by the second half of 2021. Retrieved August 8, 2021, from https://www.honeywell.com/us/en/press/2020/10/honeywell-forecasts-business-jet-usage-will-recover-to-2019-levels-by-the-second-half-of-2021
8Bannon, E. (2021, May 27). Rising use of private Jets sends CO2 emissions soaring. Transport & Environment. Retrieved August 8, 2021, from https://www.transportenvironment.org/press/rising-use-private-jets-sends-co2-emissions-soaring
9Environmentalists wary as private jet demand soars post lockdown. (2021, May 27). Retrieved August 11, 2021, from https://www.euronews.com/travel/2021/05/27/private-jets-are-popular-covid-compliant-and-terrible-for-the-environment