Ok so here’s a skill-testing question for all of you… which world leader has the largest CO2 footprint? We’ll come to the CH4 issue momentarily.
Here at Belly Buzz, we were unanimously thinking of a certain President, who clearly expels more than his fair share of toxic, methane (CH4)-laced noxious fumes.
But thankfully for the environment, a good portion of his gas emissions are actually delivered via Twitter, arguably more environmentally friendly than when he does open his mouth and speak, which is pretty often. We’re not even going to think about what comes out the other end… we’ll leave that to his trophy wife.
And while a great many people take offense to what comes out of the orange president’s mouth, in reality, what we are really talking about here is the carbon footprint of the world leader’s travel habits.
A clever travel platform named ‘fromAtoB’, did a comparison of the international flights taken by the G20 heads of state between October 2017 and February 2019 with some, perhaps, surprising results.
Secretive (why oh why?) Australia, Mexico, Indonesia and Switzerland refused to provide travel information the travel website says, and the King and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia didn’t travel during the period. So that makes 20.
While Trump, ‘trumps’ on the verbal diarrhoea scale, he didn’t actually have the worst carbon footprint! Yeah, we know, it’s a shocker! Trump took fewer international trips than other heads of state, but the flights he did take were almost all long-haul.
President Trump made 16 international visits by aircraft in 2018, the longest being his trip to Singapore for the North Korea-United States Summit in June 2018. Flying a total of 131,000 km, Trump came in as the second highest, emitting nearly 11,550 tonnes of CO2 gas.
The US president did however, take top position as the worst polluter in terms of his aircraft type, at a whopping 88 kg of CO2 per km due to the older aircraft type he uses – a B747-200B. But seriously, they have so much money why don’t they just ‘upgrade’ to a Dreamliner? Well, we suppose that will require a ‘regime change’ where size is not so much an issue.
But overall, top spot fell to Japan’s prime minister Shinzō Abe who was responsible for the highest emissions of any G20 leader, with his flights to and from the island nation covering the biggest distance and burning the most fuel.
Abe took a total of 38 flights in his B747-400 in 2018, travelling 207,000 km and emitting nearly 14,500 tonnes of CO2 gas. Clearly more efficient than the -200 model that Trump flies, the -400 accounts for 70kg of CO2 per km.
And rounding out the Top 3 was South Korea’s Moon Jae-in who travelled 163,972 km, emitting 11,461 kg of CO2, also using a B747-400.
Amongst the world’s other movers and shakers, China’s Xi Jinping, who uses a B747-400 – at least for now, but clearly not much longer – racked up 118,465 km for 8,280 tonnes of CO2 placing him fourth in the CO2 race.
Vladmir Putin, Russia’s ‘somewhat controversial’ president racked up 7,615 tonnes of CO2 emissions ranking him at number six in the ranking with his Russian-made Ilyushin Il-96-300PU which has a CO2 emission rating of 56 kg per km, placing it in the middle of the scale, slightly higher than Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s B777-300 at 51 kg of CO2 per km.
Germany’s Angela Merkel took a whopping 83 flights, but the majority of these were short haul flights to European destinations. French president Emmanuel Macron meanwhile took 77 flights in 2018, while Theresa May took 51 flights, ten of which were to and from Brussels – no worries, put that one down under ‘Brexit Cost’ column.
For other European leaders (wait, is Britain European or not?), the biggest trip of the year was to the G20 Summit 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which took place from 30 November to 1 December.
The true winners in the CO2 game in terms of the aircraft they use are Spain’s Mariano Rajoy/Pedro Sanchèz (Falcon 900 at only 5.0 kg of CO2 per km), Mark Rutte from the Netherlands (Fokker 70 with 18 kg of CO2 per km), Michel Temer from Brazil (A319 at 19 kg of CO2 per kg), Theresa May from the UK (BAe 146 at 20 kg CO2 per km) and Canada’s Justin Trudeau (B737-800 at 20 kg CO2 per km).
To be honest, we give our respect to the leaders that are humble enough to simply charter aircraft from their national carrier, or better still, just fly business or first class on their home carrier. Take Singapore for example. A very rich country, but its Prime Minister simply flies on Singapore Airlines commercial flights. Respect.
So, the point we’re really trying to make is that the world’s politicians are probably emitting more earth destroying gas than anybody else. Give the poor sheep in New Zealand a break for their farting behaviour… there’s a lot worse coming from world leaders. And at the end of the day, we can at least eat the sheep, drink their milk and eat cheese.
What do we get from the likes of Trump, Xi, Putin and May…just methane (oh, and yes the CO2 from their travel). Full of sh*t, as they say.