EU exposed: Private jet budget raised by millions despite Von der Leyen’s net zero demand

Greek MEP admits climate change is an issue 'too big for us'

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Just last week, Ms Von der Leyen told Ireland, who represent less than 0.01 percent of the planet’s population, that “only by reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050 can we limit a global temperature rise to 1.5C”. She also urged the Irish to “cut emissions in the livestock sector, but just by reducing the number of animals… I am confident that Ireland – and it’s farmers – can lead the way on this.” Ireland, which has more cows than people, exports 90 percent of its beef and dairy, meaning many livelihoods depend on this industry.

Her comments come amid a United Nations report, detailing how human activity is changing the climate in potentially irreversible ways.

However, according to documents on the EU’s tender database, the Commission keeps increasing its ‘air-taxi’ budget – also known as the funding for private jets for top EU officials including the Commission, the Parliament, the Council and the External Action Service.

Brussels has increased the amount it anticipates to spend on this high-carbon mode of transport from €10.71million (£9.1million) over five years (2016-2021) to €13.5million (£11.5million) over the next four years to 2025.

Another document, published in 2019, demonstrated that even the €10.71million (£9.1million) figure was increased from its original cap of €7.14million (£6.07million).

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The new contract will cover an estimated 1,606 flight hours, almost half of which would be used for mid-range trips between 6,500 and 10,000 kilometres.

A Commission spokesperson stressed that the new contract reflected a “potential increase in demand, mainly due to the pandemic.”

The spokesperson added: “Fewer commercial flights have been available and therefore this increase of maximum ceiling is designed to ensure the availability of this solution should such problems persist over time.

“The value of a contract corresponds to an estimation of the needs and does not necessarily mean that the entire amount will be spent.”

Only last week EU commissioner Ms Von der Leyen claimed the rest of the world were “waking up” to the threat of climate change.

She told the Irish examiner: “I believe that the rest of the world is also waking up to the facts: the cost of not acting against global warming is rising dramatically everywhere.

“We have recently seen heavy rain and flooding in China, but also deadly temperatures in Canada and melting permafrost in Siberia, to name a few examples.

“China is also vulnerable to climate change and knows it needs to tackle it – the fight against climate change is now a truly global effort.”

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The EU head also asked Ireland to “lead the way” in reducing agricultural emissions and climate-friendly farming.

She said: “There are ways in which Ireland can cut emissions in its livestock sector, and not just by reducing the number of animals.

“It is also important to create opportunities for income diversification for farmers.

“Across Europe, a shift to a sustainable food system can bring environmental, health and social benefits.

“It can ultimately make our farms more competitive globally.”

Last weekend, a United Nations scientific report detailed how human activity is changing the climate in potentially irreversible ways.

The authors said that since 1970, global surface temperatures have risen faster than in any other 50-year period over the past 2,000 years, whilst the past five years had been the hottest or record since 1850.

Scientists fear that temperatures will reach 1.5C above 1850-1900 levels by 2040 under all emissions scenarios and that the Arctic is very likely to be ice-free in September at least once before 2050.

Furthermore, they have predicted a likely increase in fire weather in many regions and the occurrence of some extreme events “unprecedented in the historical record”.

UN Secretary General António Guterres called the report “a code red for humanity” but stressed catastrophe can be avoided if the world acts fast.

General Guterres said: “If we combine forces now, we can avert climate catastrophe.

“But, as today’s report makes clear, there is no time for delay and no room for excuses.

“I count on government leaders and all stakeholders to ensure COP26 is a success.”

The report was released less than three months before a key climate summit in Glasgow known as COP26.
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