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Jet-Set Hypocrites Want to Keep Billions in Poverty Around the World

Jet-Set Hypocrites Want to Keep Billions in Poverty Around the World

by Vijay Jayaraj

The United Nations Conference of the Parties, more commonly referred to as COP, is a yearly climate conference. This year’s COP, the 28th such event, is to be held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) city of Dubai between Nov. 30 and Dec. 12.

The irony of the event’s location this year cannot be overlooked. The UAE, a nation synonymous with opulence, innovation, and towering skyscrapers, made most of its wealth from selling oil and natural gas, which are supposedly the cause of a coming apocalypse.

Dubai, the epitome of hydrocarbon-fueled extravagance, stands as a stark contrast to the very principles that COP28 purports to uphold. Hosting COP in a nation deeply entrenched in the fossil fuel industry is paradoxical at best.

In recent years, discord has emerged between developed economies embracing so-called green agendas and impoverished nations being pressured to adopt the same “decarbonization” objectives. Many voices in the global South and East believe that the West’s call for decarbonization exposes their hypocrisy both collectively and at a personal level.

Emission-Spewing Private Jets and Carbon-Intensive Lifestyles

While political figures in the West regularly point accusatory fingers at the substantial CO2 emissions of China and India, they tend to ignore per capita emissions in various nations. The per capita metric reflects individual lifestyle choices, shedding light on energy usage and quality of life.

For instance, India’s per capita emissions in 2016 were less than 2 tons. In contrast, the UAE, the COP28 host, had 24 tons. The country that gave rise to the Paris Agreement, France, emitted about 5 tons, while Germany, an “apparent leader” in renewable energy, emitted about 9 tons per person. U.S. emissions totaled 15 tons, compared to less than a paltry one-tenth of a ton from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Climate policymakers in the West’s cozy, secure and prosperous economies feel entitled to hold China, India and African countries accountable for adhering to preposterous climate “rules,” when they themselves have been using coal for two centuries and more.

Climate hypocrisy at the individual level also warrants notice. COP conferences are infamous for private jet use of political leaders and celebrities.

For instance, consider Leonardo DiCaprio, the Oscar-winning celebrity infamous for his travel by private jet. Leonardo’s typical trip on a G550 aircraft — a type of jet that he has used before — between New York and Dubai will emit approximately 52 metric tons of CO2 according to an emission calculator provided by Paramount Business Jets.

Now, let’s compare this jaw-dropping figure to the average person in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), who emits a mere 0.08 metric tons of CO2 per year. Leonardo’s one-way trip on a luxurious G550 jet from New York to Dubai would generate emissions that are a staggering 650 times higher than the yearly emissions of a person in the DRC.

The COP27 conference in Egypt last year had around 400 private jets, many of which could have been avoided by simply taking advantage of Egypt Air’s generous increase in trips. This year will be no different, especially considering the availability of private jet operators in Dubai.

The climate elites seem oblivious to the disparity between these celebrities and politicians releasing a substantially larger amount of greenhouse gases in a single journey than what an average person in Africa would emit throughout their entire adult existence.

For a native of a developing nation, the decarbonization lectures of COP leaders are the most insensitive, selfish, ill-informed, corrosive, and hypocrisy-filled policy pronouncements of the yearly calendar! The same speakers demand that people of DRC and other developing countries forgo their dreams of higher standards of living, which are unattainable without the use of significant amounts of fossil fuels.

Coal, oil and natural gas play a vital role in elevating real people in the Third World from crushing deprivation just as they contributed to the West’s triumph over widespread poverty through industrialization. There should be no restrictions on their use.

This commentary was first published at Daily Caller on November 28, 2023.

Vijay Jayaraj is a Research Associate at the CO2 Coalition, Arlington, Virginia. He holds a master’s degree in environmental sciences from the University of East Anglia, UK.