Environmental lobby group Greenpeace accused attendees of the annual Davos meeting of a "distasteful masterclass in hypocrisy" on Friday over their use of private jets to travel to the event in the Swiss Alps.
Ahead of the 2023 edition of the World Economic Forum (WEF) next week, the NGO said it had commissioned research which showed that people who attended last year had made roughly 500 private flights in and out of airports near the exclusive ski resort.
Organisers have again promised to make climate change one of the central themes of this year's summit, while efforts have also been made to reduce the carbon footprint of the meeting and encourage VIP guests to take public transport.
"Given that 80% of the world's population has never even flown, but suffers from the consequences of climate-damaging aviation emissions, and that the WEF claims to be committed to the 1.5 Celsius Paris Climate Target, this annual private jet bonanza is a distasteful masterclass in hypocrisy," Klara Maria Schenk, transport campaigner for Greenpeace, said in a statement.
The group said its research, carried out by Dutch environmental consultancy CE Delft, analysed flight records from airports near Davos during the week of the World Economic Forum last year and compared them to the weeks before and after.
"During the week of last year's World Economic Forum 1,040 private jet flights arrived and departed out of airports serving the Swiss luxury ski resort Davos, with about every second flight attributed to the meeting," it said.
One flight was for only 21 kilometres (13 miles) while most originated from France, Germany and Italy.
The flights generated emissions equivalent to those of around 350,000 average cars in a week, Greenpeace said.
WEF organisers face annual criticism over the emissions caused by the event that sees policymakers, CEOs, academics and journalists along with an army of caterers and support staff head to the Alpine village.
Since 2017, the forum offsets its emissions each year, and has a sustainability policy that encourages the use of electric vehicles, seasonal produce for food, and recycling.
The use of private jets by corporate bosses has come under renewed scrutiny in recent years thanks to Twitter accounts that track the flights of planes known to be used by high-profile CEOs.
One of American billionaire Elon Musk's first acts after taking over Twitter was to order the suspension of the @elonjet account following his own aircraft, on the grounds that it represented a security threat.
AFP approached the WEF for comment.
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