In the midst of presidents and prime ministers talking up their green credentials, a travel company has ranked 15 world leaders according to the size of their 2018 carbon footprint.
Travel company FromAtoB conducted the research, which focuses exclusively on the world leaders’ foreign flight travel. Of the countries contacted, only Australia, Mexico, Indonesia and Switzerland declined to release figures. The King of Saudi Arabia had zero flight carbon emissions but that was because he stayed home last year between Oct. 2017 and Feb. 2019.
US President Donald Trump used the dirtiest plane, a Boeing 747-200B, which emitted the most CO2 gas – 0.09 tonnes per square kilometre. He also came in second place, flying 81,400 miles (131,000 km), which emitted nearly 11,550 tonnes of CO2 gas into the atmosphere. Trump made 16 international trips, with the longest being to Singapore for the North Korea summit, last June.
The biggest polluter was Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, who had the highest emissions of any G20 leader. In mitigation, as an island nation Abe often needed to fly to get to and from Japan. His flights covered the biggest distance and burnt the most fuel. Over the course of the year, he flew internationally 38 times in his Boeing 747-400, travelling 128,000 miles (207,000 km), which emitted nearly 14,500 tonnes of CO2 gas.
Despite Trudeau’s green cred taking something of a battering recently due to his government’s support of the Trans Mountain Pipeline, he scored favourably in the rankings, coming 11th out of 15. Compared to Trump’s travel emitting 88 kg of CO2 per km, Trudeau’s only emitted 20 kg. He travelled a total of 103,990 miles (167,355 km) and was responsible for 3308.7 tonnes of CO2 emissions.
European leaders were kept busy by the various crises gripping the continent, with shuttle diplomacy seeing Angela Merkel of Germany take 83 flights, Emmanuel Macron of France 77 and Theresa May of the U.K. 51.
The rankings of biggest carbon footprint to least are:
1. Shinzō Abe (Japan)
2. Donald Trump (USA)
3. Moon Jae-in (South Korea)
4. Xi Jinping (China)
5. Emmanuel Macron (France)
6. Vladimir Putin (Russia)
7. Narendra Modi (India)
8. Angela Merkel (Germany)
9. Giuseppe Conte (Italy)
10. Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Turkey)
11. Justin Tudeau (Canada)
12. Theresa May (U.K.)
13. Michel Temer (Brazil)
14. Mark Rutte (Netherlands)
15. Mariano Rajoy/Pedro Sanchez (Spain)
FromAtoB say their analysis covers all official state travel across national borders but does not include domestic flights. CO2 emissions are based on the average values for the types of aircraft, as specified by the International Civil Aviation Organization.
FromAtoB is an online travel booking and comparison website. For the full report visit their website at fromatob.com.