Climate Conference's Carbon Footprint Doubles From Last Summit

Majority of emissions from world leaders and delegates flying in on private planes

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November 12, 2021

The carbon emissions associated with the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow more than doubled from the last time the conference was held, according to a report commissioned by the British government.

The conference, which ends Friday, is estimated to contribute to the emission of around 102,500 metric tons of CO2e, a measure of greenhouse gas emissions, the Scotsman reported. The majority of those emissions came from international flights, as world leaders and delegates flew on private planes to the summit.

Those projected emissions more than double the carbon footprint of the last conference, which was held in Madrid in 2019. That summit only led to the emission of 51,101 metric tons of CO2e.

President Joe Biden and his climate czar John Kerry both attended the conference in Scotland. The president was spotted dozing off during one speech at the summit.

Environmental activists and critics slammed the conference for the gross emissions created by air travel.

"If COP26 is to deliver the bold change needed, then those involved should lead by example," a spokeswoman for the Scottish Labour Party said. "Travel emissions were always going to be inevitable, but this stark rise will no doubt raise some eyebrows."

Doug Parr, Greenpeace UK's chief scientist, said the conference should not be judged solely on its emissions but also on the fact that the private flights to the conference highlighted the summit's "lack of equity."

"The failure to reach any meaningful agreement about limiting aviation’s vast carbon emissions—at a conference where 60 percent of their emissions came from aviation, with a backing chorus of media outrage at the private jet hypocrisy of the elites—really highlights the lack of equity in these talks," Parr said.