It emerged this week that a number of government Ministers are expected to travel across the globe for the St. Patrick’s Day weekend.
I am unsure as to the quantifiable merit of these ‘diplomatic’ holidays, I mean, journeys. However, we can be sure as to the quantifiable impact of these flights regarding their emissions.
It is estimated that the minister’s flights will account for over 75 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (CO2eq) emissions. We should also bear in mind this is based on economy seats only, with business and first class travel leading to inflated emissions.
With per capita Irish emissions at 12.3 tonnes CO2eq, these flights will lead to the same emissions as 6 people in Ireland will use in the entire year.
Whilst not entirely drastic, if we compare these emissions to countries typically blamed, we see that these flights account for the total emissions of 39 people in India or 33 people in Brazil.
Looking towards the Global South, countries like Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Ethiopia could provide for 104, 290, and 750 people respectively with the same emissions allocation.
It would be remiss to discuss flights and not mention some stark numbers as to the inequality of aviation travel.
Only 10% of the earth’s population will ever fly. 1% of people who fly account for 50% of all global aviation emissions.
I would stipulate that I do not care much for an individual’s emissions, provided they are within the realm of normality. However, these extraordinary emitters are not normal and should not be treated as such.
Climate change does not care for whataboutery. We simply do not have time.
Every single kilogram of CO2eq is critical. Every single degree in temperature rise is detrimental.
Every single flight which can be avoided is non-negligible. We must become leaders in a new model for diplomatic engagements that do not require the use of aviation.
The best carbon offset there is not leading to that emission in the first place.
Criodán Ó Murchú