Pets are bad for the environment, the boss of a luxury airline has claimed in the Daily Telegraph.
In defense of his own industry, Patrick Hanson, head of Luxaviation, claims that animals are as harmful as private jets.
Speaking at a Financial Times summit, Mr Hanson said one of his clients’ aircraft emits just 2.1 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, which is about as much as three pet dogs.
Mr Hanson referred to calculations by consultant and author Mike Berners-Lee, who claimed the annual carbon footprint of a single Labrador was around 770kg.
A larger dog, such as a Great Dane, can emit up to 2,500 kg of carbon dioxide per year due to its larger food portions.
A study last year titled “The Environmental Impact of Dog and Cat Diets” found that wet pet food emits eight times more emissions than dry pet food because it contains more meat.
Vet visits and plastic toys also add to pets’ carbon footprint.
Some green groups recommend vegan food for cats and dogs, although there are no conclusive studies on whether animals can stay healthy on a plant-based diet.
Several vegan celebrities, including Joaquin Phoenix and Alicia Silverstone, have switched to a plant-based diet for their pets.
According to consultancy Future Market Insights, the vegan pet food market will grow by nearly seven percent over the next decade.
In 2021, Lewis Hamilton was criticized for his hypocrisy after posting a photo of his vegan dog while apparently flying on a private jet.
Mr Berners-Lee said the figure of 2.1 tonnes of CO2 looked “suspiciously” low and probably only accounted for short flights by small aircraft.
According to estimates from the environmental non-governmental organization “Transport and Environment”, a private jet can emit 2 t of CO2 in one hour, while the average person in Europe emits 8.2 t of CO2 per year.
A 2021 study by the group found that private jets are 5 to 14 times more polluting than commercial jets per passenger and 50 times more polluting than trains.
Emissions from private jets increased by 31% between 2005 and 2019, even as concern about the effects of climate change became mainstream.
Their use has soared since the pandemic, set to grow by 14% between 2019 and 2022, as wealthy individuals seek to avoid the new restrictions and inconveniences of air travel.
Rishi Sunak is among several public figures who have faced criticism for using private jets. Earlier this year, the UK prime minister took £500,000 worth of private jet travel in less than two weeks, prompting criticism from the Liberal Democrats that the government was “breaking its own green promises”.
Pop star Taylor Swift was forced to issue a statement clarifying that her private jet is regularly rented out to other people after a Twitter account appeared to calculate the emissions impact of several celebrities’ flights.
Climate activists in Europe targeted the use of private jets, disrupting operations at airports, including in Geneva on Tuesday. Last year, hundreds of protesters stopped private planes taking off from Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport. Five months later, the airport announced plans to ban private jets by 2026.
Mr Hansen told the FT summit in Monaco that the use of private jets “is not going away because they provide time” for wealthy people.
He added that the industry was aware of the criticism and was working to reduce the impact of emissions, although a shortage of sustainable aviation fuels meant they were not a practical solution.
However, he said sometimes it’s better not to use planes for shorter trips.
“We tell our customers: don’t fly from Paris to Lyon.”
Mr Hansen told the Telegraph that the comments were made “to put into perspective the actions of each of us when it comes to CO2 emissions”.
“Of course, if nobody flew privately, those CO2 emissions from private jets wouldn’t be emitted. And if nobody had a pet, there wouldn’t be pet food production producing CO2 emissions,” he said. .
The UK Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change, convened by a cross-section of society, called in its 2020 recommendations for a ban on private jets and the introduction of a frequent flyer fee.
Luxaviation did not immediately respond to the Telegraph’s questions about the distance or the number of the miles traveled by the customer used in his example.
Photo by Nancy Guth: https://www.pexels.com/photo/photography-of-three-dogs-looking-up-850602/