COP 26 climate contrast: Poverty vs private jets


It is that time of the year when the global attention turns towards United Nation’s Conference of Parties, their flagship climate summit attended by global leaders.

This year’s conference, which takes place between 31 Oct, 2021 –12 Nov, 2021, is expected to have plenty of discussion on the Net Zero program, a strategy that is already embraced by many nations.

But these climate conferences are also infamous for the grand hypocrisy displayed.

Private Jets to Talk Emission Reduction

You simple cannot make this stuff up! Hundreds of private jets descend upon every city that hosts the UN COP conference, which in principle is a direct contradiction to the purpose behind the event.

Despite the hypocrisy pointed out about their gas guzzling private jets, the attendees have not stopped using their private jets.

This essentially entails that the darling of media—ie, the politicians and celebrities who use private jets—believe that the emission reduction rules do not apply to them!

Their hypocrisy has only been aided by the mainstream media that conveniently avoids the issue of private jet emissions. This is the same media which wants to dictate what type of food you should eat to offset emissions!

I’ve done many trips across the Atlantic and Pacific. Nothing happens to travelers when they fly commercial. If the climate moguls at COP were serious about emission reduction, they would have shown that in their choice of transport.

If they truly mean what they say, let the emission cut down begin with them. Let the COP26 event be held 100% online, thus allowing them to cut the maximum possible emissions. But they won’t.

The most disappointing aspect of this hypocrisy is their belief that common people do not have the freedom to emit even a fraction of a single roundtrip private jet emissions.

A Hypocrisy that Seldom knows the Pain of the Poor

In the West, they ask people not to use private cars and use the public transit instead. They are very actively seeking people to restrict the use of red meat in the market and pushing insects into human diet. Their anti-fossil fuel stance has also put poor households in peril, with homes in the UK and Europe unable to afford the soaring energy prices.

The situation in the poor and developing parts of the world is even worse. Leaders in many countries are reluctantly embracing anti-fossil fuel policies that compromises the energy security of their countries.

Many hospitals in Africa and Asia are yet to be electrified with a dependable power source, and act as a primary reason behind increased morbidity and mortality. Millions of households are forced to use unclean cooking fuels like coal and cowdung, as access to gas is being increasingly threatened due to fossil fuel opposition.

For many in the poor regions of the world, access to energy resource can mean the difference between life and death. What they ask for is not a private jet trip, but affordable fossil fuels that are in abundance.

It is cruel that the COP26 attendees guzzle fossil fuels for a week’s trip yet deny the use of same fossil fuel for life-saving purposes. The poverty-stricken people do not have any of the privileges that the COP26 attendees take for granted.

We live in an age where rich and influential people can get away with committing energy crime against humanity in the name of climate action. This must stop.


  • “Vijay Jayaraj (M.Sc., Environmental Science, University of East Anglia, England), is an Environmental Researcher based in New Delhi, India. He served as a Graduate Research Assistant at the University of British Columbia, Canada and has worked in the fields of Conservation, Climate change and Energy.”