Company. How private jets became the controversy of the summer

Regulate, prohibit or tax? For the past week, proposals concerning the supervision of private jets have been multiplying. A controversy that dates back to the end of July, on social networks, while several accounts have specialized in tracking private jets groups such as Total or large fortunes such as Bernard Arnault, Vincent Bolloré and Martin Bouygues. The objective: to denounce the disproportionate carbon footprint of these super-rich, who do not hesitate to take the plane to make very short journeys on a regular basis.

Last February, Greenpeace and Oxfam published a report on the carbon footprint of the ultra-rich French people. “It’s a subject that really raises the question of the distribution of effort in a context of climate change, explains Sarah Fayolle, transport campaign manager at Greenpeace. The least we could do would be to ask those who pollute the most to make an effort. This refers to a feeling of social injustice. »

One in ten private jet flights

In France, one in ten flights would be made aboard a private jet, according to a report by the NGO Transport & Environment published in 2021. Also according to this report, half of these flights would be less than 500 kilometers. During these short distances, the planes are “the least efficient and therefore the most polluting”, specifies the NGO.

If the private jet has been singled out so much lately, it is above all for its very polluting nature. “Our report finds that private jets are 5 to 14 times more polluting than commercial planes (per passenger) and 50 times more polluting than trains. And for the past year, private jets have been booming. 20% more flights compared to 2019, the last reference year before covid-19, when “classic” flights experienced a 30% drop, according to Eurocontrol.

Politicians get involved

Since the emergence of this question in the public arena, politicians have taken hold of the debate. Julien Bayou was one of the first to draw. In an interview granted to Liberation, the Parisian deputy asked for the banning of these private jets. A position shared by Greenpeace. “We think we should move towards a ban,” says Sarah Fayolle. In some cases, private jets are not uninteresting, as in a social logic. It will therefore be necessary to modulate this prohibition. »

Clément Beaune, Minister Delegate for Transport, talks more about regulation but assures that “behaviours will have to change”. “We can think about systems, either of taxation or of regulation”, indicated this Thursday the minister on France 2, who should now make “specific proposals” to Emmanuel Macron and Élisabeth Borne.

For his part, Olivier Véran refuses the ban on these private jet flights. “In the vast majority of cases, (these are) commercial transport, according to the government spokesperson. It creates jobs, so it is obviously not a question of banning it”. The former Minister of Health, however, qualifies his remarks. “We can understand that a Frenchman who is careful in his daily life […] is shocked by the fact that some of his fellow citizens can take a private jet to make the jumps of chip. »

At a time when President Macron is talking about “the end of abundance”, the debate is far from over.

Company. How private jets became the controversy of the summer