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Can Trump beat Japan's PM in CO2 emissions?

Donaldb Trump and Shinzo Abe

A new study compared international flights taken by G20 heads of state and found out who had the biggest carbon footprint over the course of a year; and 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.

Climate change is now at the forefront of political debate, with key moments such as Greta Thunberg’s impassioned UN speech on Monday resonating globally. The most powerful leaders in the world met in Osaka, Japan for the G20 Summit on 28th to 29th June, with climate change a major topic on the agenda. To find out which G20 leader has the largest carbon footprint, travel platform fromAtoB looked at leaders’ travel patterns to see who had the biggest carbon footprint over the course of a year.

While China as a whole now accounts for the largest portion of 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, traveling 128,000 miles (207,000 km) and emitting nearly 14,500 tonnes of CO2 gas.

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-United States Summit in June. 

Among European leaders, Angela Merkel took a whopping 83 flights, but the majority of these were short-haul flights to European destinations. French President Emmanuel Macron meanwhile took 77 flights in 2018, while Theresa May took 51 flights.

For European leaders, the biggest trip of the year was to the G20 Summit 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which took place from 30th November to 1st December. 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.

Leader
(country)
Plane
(model)
CO2 emissions
(tonnes)
Total distance
travelled (miles)
Total distance
travelled (km)
CO2 emissions
(kg per km)
Shinzō Abe
(Japan)
Boeing 747-400 14.442.1 128,388 206,620 70
Donald Trump
(USA)
Boeing 747-200B 11.487.3 81,392 130,988 88
Moon Jae-in
(South Korea)
Boeing 747 11.461.1 101,887 163,972 70
Xi Jinping
(China)
Boeing 747-400 8280.3 73,611 118,465 70
Emmanuel Macron
(France)
Airbus A330-200 7645.0 127,708 205,526 37
Wladimir Putin
(Russia)
Iljuschin II-96-300PU 7615.7 84,112 135,365 56
Narendra Modi
(India)
Boeing 777-300 7477.3 91,546 147,329 51
Angela Merkel
(Germany)
Airbus A340-300 7325.1 106,402 171,238 42
Giuseppe Conte
(Italy)
Airbus A340-500 6394.0 72,014 115,896 55
Recep Tayyip Erdogan
(Turkey)
Airbus A340 5087.7 76,711 123,454 41
Justin Trudeau
(Canada)
Boeing 737-800 3308.7 103,990 167,355 20
Theresa May
(UK)
British Aerospace BAe 146 2277.6 70,580 113,587 20
Michel Temer
(Brazil)
Airbus A319 1662.7 54,256 87,316 19
Mark Rutte
(Netherlands)
Fokker 70 1080.8 37,853 60,918 18
Mariano Rajoy /
Pedro Sanchéz
(Spain)
Falcon 900 985.3 109,278 175,855 5
Total   96530.6 1,319,727 2,123,895





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