EU chiefs flew to COP27 climate talks on private jet, report says


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The European Union's joint presidents reportedly flew to November's climate talks in Egypt on a private jet.

Politico reported on Tuesday that flight data obtained through a freedom of information request revealed heavy use of private flights by European Council President Charles Michel.

Furthermore, it showed that Michel traveled using commercial airlines for just 18 of 112 missions between the beginning of his term in 2019 and December 2022.

The outlet said the president used chartered air taxis on 72 trips, including to both the COP27 talks and COP26 in Glasgow the year before. 


Politico noted that he invited Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on the flight to Egypt.

President of the European Council Charles Michel speaks at the COP27 climate conference on Nov. 8, 2022, in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. (Sean Gallup / Getty Images)

While a spokesperson for Michel did not immediately respond to FOX Business' request for comment, a spokesperson told Politico that the decision to travel by private jet last year was made after no commercial flights were available to return Michel to Brussels in time for his work at the European Parliament.

While staff had looked into flying with Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, that plane was scheduled to return before Michel’s work at COP27 would be completed.

The spokesperson said that hiring a private jet was the "only suitable option [under] the circumstances," and that "given that the president of the commission was also invited to the COP27, we proposed to share a flight." 

He also noted that the flight complied with internal council rules and that neither Brussels nor Sharm El-Sheikh airports had provision for sustainable aviation fuel. Since 2021, the spokesperson said Michel has offset the emissions of his flights by funding a Brazilian ceramics factory to switch its fuel from illegal timber to agricultural and industrial waste products.

"The fact that both presidents traveled together, with their teams, shows that they did what was possible to optimize the travel arrangements and reduce the associated carbon footprint," a spokesperson for the commission told the site, confirming that the officials had flight-pooled. 

European Council President Charles Michel and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen greet each other at the COP27 climate conference on Nov. 8, 2022, in Egypt.  (Sean Gallup / Getty Images)


A spokesperson for the commission also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Public officials and celebrities alike have been under public scrutiny for questionable air travel choices, with some simultaneously calling for climate change-related action. 

Billionaire Bill Gates told the BBC that it was not hypocritical for him to travel by private jet while trying to tackle the issue. 

"Well I, by the gold standard of, funding Climeworks, to do direct air capture that far exceeds my family's carbon footprint," Gates said. 

Superstar Taylor Swift received backlash after a sustainability marketing agency found she had flown in her private jet 170 times between Jan. 1 and July 29 of last year. 


Taylor Swift poses in the press room at the American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on Nov. 20, 2022, in Los Angeles. (Sarah Morris/FilmMagic via / Getty Images)

However, a representative for the singer said, "Taylor’s jet is loaned out regularly to other individuals. To attribute most or all of these trips to her is blatantly incorrect," according to TMZ. 

Notably, Kylie Jenner has also faced criticism over her decision to take her private jet on a flight that lasted for fewer than 20 minutes, as well as additional shorter trips.

FOX Business' Daniella Genovese and Fox News' Stephanie Giang-Paunon contributed to this report.

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