Are world leaders who demand climate action being conscientious about their own travel?
Travel portal fromAtoB has carried out research into all the flights taken by various G20 leaders in 2018 to see who had the biggest carbon footprint. The analysis took all state travel across national borders into account – internal flights were not included.
While China as a whole accounts for the largest portion of global CO2 emissions, with the amount rising sharply since 2000, President Xi Jinping was not the worst offender when it came to his own personal travel.
Japan’s prime minister Shinzō Abe was responsible for the highest emissions of any G20 leader, with his flights to and from the island nation covering the biggest distance and burning the most fuel. He took a total of 38 flights in his Boeing 747-400 in 2018, travelling 128,000 miles (207,000 km) and emitting nearly 14,500 tonnes of CO2.
US president Donald Trump came in second place, flying across 81,400 miles (131,000 km) and emitting nearly 11,550 tonnes of CO2 gas. President Trump made 16 international visits by plane in 2018, the longest being his trip to Singapore for the North Korea-US Summit in June.
Among European leaders, Angela Merkel took 83 flights, but the majority of these were short haul to European destinations. French president Emmanuel Macron meanwhile took 77 flights in 2018, while Theresa May took 51.
For European leaders, the biggest trip of the year was to the G20 Summit 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which took place from November 30 to December 1. As part of ongoing Brexit negotiations, Theresa May took a string of flights to Brussels in February, June, July, October and December.
But the number of flights taken and miles crossed doesn’t tell the full story. The type of aircraft also had a significant impact on carbon emissions. When all factors were taken into account, Trump’s Boeing 747-200B emitted the most CO2 gas – 0.09 tonnes per square km.
The full original research results can be viewed here.