Flying private buys time, but it also buys heightened comfort and luxury features, and these last two annul the other one, turning it into an indulgence. At least it does in the eyes of the rest of us, who end up picking the bill.
If there's one thing that remains constant about the world's richest is that they don't like being made into targets. Criticize them if you must because your words have zero power over them, but if you're loud enough to generate talk of enforcing legal measures against some of the things they do, they will resent it. And they might just come for poor Fido, who has never been anything but the bestest boy.
That's right. Next time you think to say that flying private is wasteful and polluting, take a look at your life first. If you own a pet, be it a dog or a cat, and especially if said pet happens to be a larger dog breed, you're the worst. You're way worse than those people who can afford to fly private and whom you keep criticizing for it.
Every living being has a carbon footprint, as highlighted by British professor and expert Mike Berners-Lee in the book How Bad Is a Banana?, which Hansen referenced during the summit. According to data analyzed by Berners-Lee, an average-sized pooch like a Labrador will have a carbon footprint of 0.7 tons a year. The bigger the dog, the bigger the footprint, and most of it is due to the pet's diet and how it's produced, transported, and stored.
The fact is that private jet flying emits between five to 14 times more pollutants than commercial flights on a per-passenger basis. Another fact is that those who fly private are responsible for quantities of pollutants per year that commercial fliers won't achieve in their lifetime, even if they take regular vacations by plane. Another significant fact is that commercial flights are available for most routes used for private charter, even if they're not as time-convenient and definitely not as fancy.
Think of the many times private jet flying has been in the news these past few years and for all the wrong reasons. The health crisis of 2020 grounded most commercial fleets for months, which led to a surge in private jet charter, which then spun into the current trend of chartering over distances that can easily be covered by car in under 2 hours. The world's rich are hopping on private jets for 15-minute flights because they can, because they don't care about anything beyond their personal comfort, and because they're flexing.
Indulgences like private flying are anything from obscene to heartbreaking, depending on how you look at them. But if you're going to give in to them, the least you can do is own it. Fido deserves better than to be dragged into this mess.