Looking down today’s batting order at the COP26 summit, Steerpike’s eye alighted on the name of Ursula von der Leyen. A failed German defence minister, kicked upstairs to her current post of President of the European Commission: who better to save the world than a superannuated Eurocrat?
And, with exquisite timing, the Daily Telegraph has this afternoon released an audit of VDL’s jet-setting tours of Europe. The EU’s top official ordered ‘air taxis’ for 18 out of her 34 official trips since taking up the role in December 2019, despite a pledge to turn the bloc carbon-neutral by 2050.
The shortest of the journeys was a 31-mile hop between Vienna and Bratislava, a journey which takes 68 minutes by public transport. On other occasions a team of European commissioners, including the president, have twice chartered private planes for the 31-minute flight to Strasbourg, for meetings in the European Parliament.
Private jets emit as much as twenty times more carbon dioxide per passenger mile than the average commercial flight and fifty times more pulling than trains, according to studies. But despite this, VDL and her fellow Brussels commissioners have continued to rack up tens of thousands of miles on private jets since taking office.
Yet having arrived in Glasgow on another plane, von der Leyen had little compunction in delivering a paean to the eco-agenda. Declaring war on the ‘low-hanging fruit’ of methane gases, the former physician unveiled a joint EU-US pledge to cut such emissions by 30 per cent by 2030.
Mr S humbly suggests that if von der Leyen really wants to tackle ‘low-hanging fruit’, surely curbing the use of ‘air taxis’ might be the best way to reduce emissions?
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