Say goodbye to private jets: Amsterdam leads the way in sustainable travel

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by Noah Düker

25.5 million passengers arrive at or change planes at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport every year. This makes it the second-largest airport in the EU. Private jets and night flights are now to be banned there from the end of 2025. This will lead to “quieter, cleaner and better air traffic,” according to the airport.

In addition, larger and thus noisier aircraft such as the Boeing 747 will no longer be allowed to land. Residents and climate protection activists welcome Schiphol’s move to improve the quality of life in the Amsterdam suburb. The effects of this decision will now be felt throughout Europe. Because other cities could push for similar measures in the future.

Speaking in numbers, this would mean about 10,000 fewer aircraft per year to land at Schiphol, their flights being cancelled with the ban. Recently the government also implemented directives for the airport to reduce the flights from 500 to 440 thousand flights, cutting an additional 40 thousand flights, starting November 2023. 

“FOR TOO LONG, WE HAVE ONLY THOUGHT ABOUT GROWTH AND NOT ENOUGH ABOUT THE ASSOCIATED COSTS. WE NEED TO BE SUSTAINABLE FOR OUR EMPLOYEES, THE ENVIRONMENT AND THE WORLD.”, SAYS RUUD SONDAG, CEO ROYAL SCHIPHOL GROUP. 

Lawsuit against guidelines – airlines fear reduced profits

Travel agencies and Airlines have complained about the changes. The Dutch Airline KLM, who’s main airport is Schiphol, was surprised, claiming that they had wished for coordinated action across the entire air travel industry. But the lack of actual plans stemming from big airlines might explain why Schiphol’s decision not to wait.

The shrinking of flight numbers at Schiphol was followed by a lawsuit by KLM and four other airlines in fear of having reduced profits. Early April 2023, a Dutch court now overruled the directive due to an issue regarding formalities in the law-making process. 

Climate activists are disappointed about the court’s ruling, setting back the efforts of CO2 reduction in the Netherlands drastically. Their hopes now lie with the airport’s lone push to at least save a fourth of the CO2 intended by the government.

Private jets as climate killer – Germany to consider ban in the future

German air travel expert Sussane Menge sees private jets as a “great climate injustice” and calls for airports in Germany to implement similar directives to Schiphol to combat rising CO2 emissions. 

“IT IS NO LONGER PLAUSIBLE THAT MANY PEOPLE ARE NOW COMBATING GLOBAL WARMING BY INSULATING HOUSES AND REPLACING HEATING SYSTEMS, WHILE A SMALL MINORITY IS PUMPING OUT JET FUEL AS IF THERE WERE NO TOMORROW.” – GERMAN AIR TRAVEL EXPERT SUSANNE MENGE. 

Now the German Greens have announced that they are considering proposing a similar with support from opposition party “die Linke” (the Left) though the future of this legislation is unclear.

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Most wealth – Most emissions

And the numbers add up, considering that in 2019, a year before the Private jet boom properly kicked off, private jets already accounted for 899,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2). In comparison, in the same year, the CO2 emissions on a global average per person accounted for about 4.78 tons per year.

Considering these facts, it gets even more baffling when one considers that these 899 thousand tons of carbon dioxide is emitted by just about 22 thousand jets. Meaning that these approximately 22,000 private aircraft owners emit equally to about 188,000 people. And that’s only with their jets, accounting for other luxuries, these numbers can rise up to a staggering 3 million tons per year for the top 1 percent.

A person with average carbon emission would take more than 627 thousand years to produce the amount of CO2 a billionaire emits in a Year. Considering the shrinking CO2 budget, the rising temperatures and growing wealth inequality, considering bans like this might be a necessity all over Europe in the future.

This article originally appeared in scoop.me

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