Davos VIPs are worried about the climate crisis. They're still using private jets

Posted Tuesday, 14 January 2020 ‐ CNN

London (CNN Business)The World Economic Forum is preparing to perform a difficult dance:proclaim its growing concern for the climate crisiseven as scores of private planes and luxury carsferry attendees to its annual conference in Davos.In an era of "flight shaming" and increased public awareness over climate change, the organizers of next week's event are ratcheting up efforts to reduce the environmental impact of the conference, which draws politicians and CEOs to the Swiss Alps for panel discussions, closed-door meetings and parties. Greta Thunberg, the teenage climate activist known for calling out global leaders, is attending for a second year after she criticized guests at a star-studded luncheon in 2019. WEF is touting promises to buy carbon credits offsetting flights, a redesigned conference center and a menu packed with locally-sourced food. The fleet of vehicles that will shuttle many dignitaries around the ski resort townis now 88% electric or hybrid.It's a mark of mounting pressure on the organization, which has long faced blowback for the environmental footprint of the summit. For some high-profile figures who plan to attend, such as BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, fighting climate change is now an urgent priority. The theme of this year's meeting is "Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World."Still, the group's actions are unlikely to insulate it from critics, who argue that the forum and its attendees are more worried about optics than pursuing systemic change.WEF acknowledges that because it "brings together stakeholders to help address the greatest ecological crisis of our time," it eats up resources and causes emissions. In 2020, it's vowed to become "more sustainable than ever.""The Forum is committed to improving the state of the world and this is why sustainability of our 50th Annual Meeting takes on the utmost importance," Lee Howell, managing director at the World Economic Forum, said in a statement.Yet ensuring a sustainable conference is no simple task — in large part because of the sheer number of flights required to bring in nearly 3,000 delegates from around the world, to say nothing of their entourages, conference staffers, security personnel and the global media. Scientists have estimated that roughly 5% of global warming is the result of commercial aviation. Planes spew out carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, as well as nitrous oxides, which produce the greenhouse gas ozone. Contrails, ice particles produced by planes that trap radiation, also contribute to global warming.The issue has led to a strengthening "flight shaming" movement in Europe, known in Thunberg's native Swedish as"flygskam." Thunberg, who recentlysailed across the Atlantic to attend a UN climate summit, traveled to Davos last year by train, a much cleaner form of transport.WEF notes that it has offset all flights for accreditedattendees to its conference since 2017 by purchasing carbon credits that fund emissions-reducing projects. This year, credits purchased to offset conference emissions will support projects that aim to protect the Amazon from deforestation and convert methane from cow manure in Switzerland into energy.But Lucy Gilliam, aviation and shipping specialist at Transport & Environment, a European nonprofit that lobbies for clean transport, said there are drawbacks to offset programs, which need to be maintained over time and can take a while to kick in."You're not actually removing the emissions that have been created by that plane," she said. "The plane will have burned that fuel, and the carbon has been released into the atmosphere."The particular rub at Davos, Gilliam said, is that manyparticipating government ministers and top corporate executives opt to take private planes, which produce more emissions per person than commercial flights.WEF estimates that there were as many as 309 trips last year by private planes to two nearby airports for the conference. That number, which excludes the presidents and prime ministers that tend to land at a nearby military base, was 20% lower than in 2018.Eymeric Segard, the CEO of LunaJets, says he's responding to the "flight shaming" movement. His Geneva-based company is pushing clients who want to book a private jet for Davosto opt for smaller, more fuel-efficient planes.LunaJets is also pledging to offset all trips it books by purchasing carbon credits. That means some trips to the conference could be offset twice — both by LunaJets and WEF."[It's a] very niche clientele that go to Davos," he said. "When they come from Africa, Asia, the US and India, a train is simply not an option." Armed with a webpage outlining its sustainability measures, WEF is prepared for questions.The group said that last year it had offset 35,000 tons of emissions, funding not only efficient cooking stoves in China, Mali, India and South Africa, but also restoring peatlands in the area that hosts the annual meeting.In addition to paying to offset all emissions, WEF has refurbished the main conference center where it holds events, installing solar panels and geothermal heating. Paint derived from seaweed has been used to freshen up some rooms. Carpeting on stages will come from renewable sources including "end-of life fishing nets."WEF is alsoeliminating single-use plastics for bags and drinks. "Future Food Wednesday" will feature "a menu that is rich in protein but meat- and fish-free." And Swiss artificial intelligence company Kitro's technology will be used to monitor food waste.

Other articles published by CNN

Posted Monday, 20 January 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez announced Sunday the dismissal of two more cabinet members --- her secretaries of family services, Glorimar Andújar, and housing, Fernando Gil-Enseñat.The move comes after the discovery of a warehouse filled with...

Posted Monday, 20 January 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)The third horse in three days -- the fourth this month -- was put to death at Santa Anita Park in California Sunday, according to a state horse racing board spokesman.The 3-year-old horse, named Tikkun Olam, "was involved in a head-on collision with ...

Posted Monday, 20 January 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Heath Ledger is gone but certainly not forgotten. At Sunday's SAG Awards, the late actor received a heartfelt shout out from actor Joaquin Phoenix as the "Joker" star accepted the award for best performance by a male actor in a leading role. Ledger...

Posted Monday, 20 January 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)The Kansas City Chiefs will play the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl LIV next month. The Chiefs won the AFC Championship game, defeating the Tennessee Titans 35-24 Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. The 49ers defeated the...

Posted Monday, 20 January 2020 ‐ CNN

Hong Kong (CNN Business)Chinese pharmaceutical stocks skyrocketed Monday as China reported more than 100 new cases of pneumonia caused by a new strain of coronavirus.Jiangsu Bioperfectus Technologies, a company that recently said it has created a drug...

Posted Monday, 20 January 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Chicago animal control services say the coyote they captured earlier this month is the same one that bit a 6-year-old boy. The animal had been shot in the chest with a BB gun, "which could have caused the limp in its movements as well as the...

Posted Monday, 20 January 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Robert De Niro reserves his right to speak up, so that's exactly what he did in his SAG Awards speech on Sunday night. While accepting his lifetime achievement award, the legendary actor voiced his support for his union and called on voters to look...

Posted Monday, 20 January 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)A New Jersey fire department's pit bull just became the first of its breed to become an arson detection K9 officer.Hansel, a 4-year-old pup known for his cheerful energy and constant kisses, graduated from training on Friday, officially becoming a...

Posted Monday, 20 January 2020 ‐ CNN

Hong Kong (CNN)China has reported 139 new cases of pneumonia caused by a new strain of coronavirus, including a third death, as the outbreak spreads beyond the city where the virus was first identified. Health authorities in Beijing confirmed two cases...

Posted Monday, 20 January 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Brad Pitt probably doesn't need help getting people to swipe right on Tinder, but a SAG Award can't hurt, right? On Sunday, the "Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood" actor picked up the SAG Award for outstanding performance by a male actor in a...

Posted Monday, 20 January 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Americana singer and songwriter David Olney, whose music was recorded by Linda Ronstadt, Steve Young, Emmylou Harris and others, died of an apparent heart attack while performing on stage in Florida Saturday, according to a statement on his website. ...

Posted Monday, 20 January 2020 ‐ CNN

Austin (CNN)President Donald Trump touted his two recent trade policies Sunday night at the American Farm Bureau Federation's annual conference, but his biggest applause line came when he went off script to talk about impeachment. "We're achieving what...

Posted Monday, 20 January 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Sunday night that "we will force votes on witnesses and documents" in the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump that gets underway in earnest this week."And it will be up to four Republicans to...

Posted Monday, 20 January 2020 ‐ CNN

This analysis was excerpted from the January 20 edition of CNN's Meanwhile in America, the daily email about US politics for global readers. Sign up here to receive it every weekday morning. (CNN)As Donald Trump sees it, America lucked out with a good...

Posted Monday, 20 January 2020 ‐ CNN

(CNN)Amazon comedies swept their way through early TV prizes at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, including the second consecutive best ensemble win for "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" and actor Tony Shalhoub, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge for the Emmy-winning...