A recent study aimed at analyzing the carbon footprints of the world’s richest people and shaming them into cleaning their acts has made some shocking claims. The billionaires across the world have carbon footprints that can be thousands of times higher than those of average Americans, according to the study. A list of 20 such billionaires was prepared by researchers to calculate their estimated contribution of greenhouse gasses thanks to decadent lifestyles that include yachts, planes, and multiple mansions. The study only put into consideration their personal carbon footprints which don’t include their businesses.
Right on the top of the list and beating everyone by a huge margin is Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich who alone has a carbon footprint of 33,859 tons of CO2 per year and unbelievably this is greater than the emissions of many nations. Small island nations like Tonga, Kiribati, and Nauru all have carbon footprints smaller than 0.1Mt (10,000 tons) of CO2 per year. In comparison, an average person from China (the world’s most polluting country) has a carbon footprint of just 6 tons per year.
What’s surprising is that Abramovich’s carbon footprint is substantially larger than everyone else on this list, including the three richest people on earth – Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Bill Gates. That’s despite the fact that the Russian billionaire has a net worth of $14 billion, which is far less than the wealth of the three centibillionaires. In fact, the cumulative contribution of carbon emissions by them is just a third of that of Abramovich. Absolutely crazy!
Carbon footprint and climate change
Climate change is one of the biggest challenges faced by all of humanity. Climate models by scientists paint a grim picture by predicting that Earth’s global average temperature will rise by as much as 4° C in the 21st century if the issue is not addressed at war footing. Transitioning to renewable sources of energy and faster adoption of sustainable mobility are just a few ways being adopted by countries to bring control over climate change.
Furthermore, massive attempts are being made to spread awareness amongst the masses on how to reduce carbon footprint, which can prove to be crucial in helping nations achieve tight deadlines for net carbon neutrality. While every individual has to equally contribute towards reducing their carbon footprint to prevent devastating climate change, a big change can be made if a handful of billionaires clean up their act.
Superyachts and their shocking environmental impact
A superyacht is considered the pinnacle of conspicuous wealth. The world’s billionaires only got richer during the pandemic, which is represented by the stellar growth of the yacht industry. In 2021 alone, 887 superyachts were sold resulting in an increase of more than 75% compared with the year before. However, superyachts are also the biggest contributors to air pollution. Environmentalists claim an average superyacht can produce 1,500 times more carbon than a typical family car. No doubt Abramovich topped the list of billionaires with the biggest carbon footprint; the Russian oligarch owns not one but two of the biggest superyachts in the world that produces devastating amounts of CO2 and other environment-damaging gasses.
Roman Abramovich and his polluting toys
Eclipse – $700 million
The biggest contributor to Abramovich’s carbon footprint is his megayacht Eclipse. The method of estimating a superyacht’s carbon footprint is by analyzing the amount of CO2 produced by the combustion engines powering the vessel per nautical mile and then calculating the total pollution caused in a year by comparing it with the maritime data publicly available. The study claims that Eclipse produce a staggering 25,100 tons of CO2 in 2018. Just to put that into context, the superyacht alone has 12 times the carbon footprint of Jeff Bezos who is estimated to produce 2053 tons of CO2 a year.
In fact, the vessel caused more pollution than what almost 1700 Americans contribute on average. The numbers are simply astonishing despite considering the fact that Eclipse is one of the biggest superyachts in the world measuring 162.5 meters in length. Estimated to be valued at $700 million, the luxury vessel was built at Blohm+Voss yard in Germany and was delivered in 2010.
The Eclipse features a diesel-electric propulsion system made of four MTU diesel engines, which gives the superyacht a top speed of 21.5 knots, cruising speed of 20.0 knots and a maximum cruising range of 6000.0 nautical miles. Eclipse can accommodate up to 36 guests in 18 staterooms, with 66 crew members.
Solaris – $600 million
What’s interesting is that the data for creating the list is from 2018, which doesn’t include the Solaris superyacht. That’s because the $600 million vessel was delivered last year. The Solaris measures slightly less than 140 meters, which is not much less than the Eclipse. This makes us question, what if we add the estimated carbon footprint of Solaris to the date we already have? We can see the total go up at least another 20,000 tons of CO2 per year, which will take Abramovich’s total carbon footprint to more than 50,000 tons per year.
The vessel is powered by eight MTU diesel engines, giving it a top speed of 18.0 knots and a cruising speed of 15.0 knots. It gets state-of-the-art security, including a radar-controlled missile detection system, bulletproof windows, and armored protection. The superyacht can accommodate 36 guests along with a crew of 66.
The owner’s deck alone is 56 meters in length. The vessel has a 16-meter swimming pool with a base that can be raised to transform the area into a dance floor. If that’s not all, the yacht can also fit in three helicopters.
The world’s most expensive private jet and a fleet of smaller aircraft
Abramovich also owns the world’s most expensive private jet – a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner. The aircraft has a base price of $250 million, while additional customization and equipment adds another $100 million to the cost, taking the total to $350 million.
The cabin has been customized to fit 50 passengers and finished according to the billionaire’s taste; the dining room alone can seat 30 guests.
In addition to the Dreamliner, Abramovich also has a Gulfstream G650 worth $65 million. The business jet’s 53-foot cabin fits anywhere between 11 to 18 passengers, while it has a range of 8000 miles.
Abramovich also is believed to own three helicopters, including an Airbus EC155 Dauphin and EC145. It is estimated that the CO2 produced by Abramovich’s fleet is around 8500 tons per year. While that’s a huge number, it’s still almost a third of what is produced by his Eclipse superyacht.
According to climate experts, the world will have to reduce carbon emissions by half by 2030 and go completely neutral by 2050 if we aim to restrict global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. Achieving those lofty goals will be impossible without these billionaires realizing the devastation caused by their excessive self-indulgent lifestyles.