France to curb the private jet emissions of its globe-trotting billionaires

Fuel-guzzling planes of the French elite have caused a political controversy at a time when the general public is being asked to show restraint

Bernard Arnault on board his private jet travelling between Beijing and Shanghai in 2004. Getty
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France is to consult its European Union partners on how to curb private jet emissions after French billionaires gallivanting around the world in fuel-guzzling planes caused a political controversy over the summer.

While an outright ban is not on the agenda, French government spokesman Olivier Veran said on Tuesday that at a time when more "sober" energy consumption habits are being promoted, regulating private jets would send a message that the same rules apply to all.

Several Twitter accounts tracking French billionaires' private jet flights have emerged recently, causing a public outcry over private jet emissions from the wealthy while regular folks are being asked to save on energy.

The leading "I Fly Bernard" account tracks the every move of a jet belonging to Bernard Arnault, the CEO of luxury giant LVMH and one of the world's richest men.

The account doesn't just have Mr Arnault in its sights, however, with no globe-trotting billionaire safe.

In this tweet, the flights of the private jet belonging to French banking billionaire Vincent Bollore on August 8 were tracked. Somewhat incredibly, Mr Bollore's plane took to the skies five times that day, "a record since the opening of this account", according to the tweet.

"Private jets have a symbolic value," Mr Veran told France Inter radio.

"One can understand that French people who cut their energy consumption can be hurt when some of his fellow citizens use a private jet to hop around from place to place even though in most cases private jets are used for business," he said.

This is why Transport Minister Clement Beaune proposed that EU ministers look at "ways to compensate Co2 emissions" of private jet flights, Mr Veran said.

Mr Beaune over the weekend told Le Parisien newspaper that it will be more efficient to act on the matter at a European level "to have the same rules and the most impact".

EU transport ministers are due to meet next month.

The head of the French Green party, Julien Bayou, who favours an outright ban, told RMC radio on Tuesday: "One cannot tolerate that some people burn with a few flights 50 years in the (energy) consumption of an average French person."

Updated: August 23, 2022, 12:08 PM