News / World

AFP
Wire Service
1 minute read
4 Nov 2021
11:02 pm

EU’s ‘green’ chief challenged over private jet trips

AFP

Mamer said the Commission went out of its way to ensure the company used for the charter flights offset the carbon emissions from von der Leyen's trips.

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission speaks at the World Leaders' Summit "Accelerating Clean Technology Innovation and Deployment" session at the COP26 Climate Conference at the Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow, Scotland on November 2, 2021. - More than 80 countries have signed up to a US and EU pledge to slash methane emissions by 30 percent by the end of the decade, European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen said Tuesday. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell / various sources / AFP)

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen, who has made a “green” transition the centrepiece of her mandate, has been questioned for using private jets while urging less carbon-fuelled travel.

Her spokesman on Thursday defended her chartered aircraft flights on some trips within Europe, saying she holds down a job “where relations with partners who are other heads of state and government are very important and they require a bit more than simple Zoom contacts”.

Journalists asked spokesman Eric Mamer about the optics of von der Leyen sometimes flying by private jet, especially after fronting up at the COP26 UN climate conference in Britain this week to underline how “green” the EU was becoming.

Mamer pointed out that the European Commission president had “important constraints” on bringing 27 member states to consensus on major issues within short timeframes. 

He also noted that the Covid-19 pandemic’s impact on travel, severely curtailing the availability of commercial planes and trains, had to be taken into account.

Mamer said the Commission went out of its way to ensure the company used for the charter flights offset the carbon emissions from von der Leyen’s trips.

He added that the EU executive was also “exploring” greater use of flights running on biofuel — such as the one von der Leyen used to get to the COP26 summit.