Never mind climate change, Davos prefers private jets

Participants to the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting are seen in the Congress Centre, on January 22, 2019 in Davos, eastern Switzerland. (AFP)
Updated 22 January 2019
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Never mind climate change, Davos prefers private jets

  • It forecast nearly 1,500 private jet flights over the week of the World Economic Forum (WEF) to airports near Davos in the Swiss Alps
  • The website privatefly.com forecast an even higher number of private flight movements related to Davos this week, of around 2,000 in and out of local airports

DAVOS, Switzerland: The Davos elite say they are more worried than ever about climate change. But that isn’t stopping them chartering private jets in record numbers.
The convenience and comfort of flying privately rather than commercially appears to outweigh any concerns about the outsized carbon footprint it involves, judging by a number-crunching exercise by the company Air Charter Service (ACS).
It forecast nearly 1,500 private jet flights over the week of the World Economic Forum (WEF) to airports near Davos in the Swiss Alps.
That would be up from the more than 1,300 aircraft movements seen at last year’s forum, despite climate change registering as the top risk factor identified for the global economy in a survey of WEF movers and shakers last week.
In a blog post, the website privatefly.com forecast an even higher number of private flight movements related to Davos this week, of around 2,000 in and out of local airports.
And while most people reach Davos by car or train after alighting from airports such as Zurich, two to three hours’ away, a select few CEOs and government leaders hire helicopters to save time.
Demand for private jets in the week of Davos far outstrips other events that also loom large on the private aviation calendar, such as the Super Bowl or Champions’ League final, according to Andy Christie, private jets director at ACS.
“We have had bookings from as far as our operations in Hong Kong, India and the US — no other event has the same global appeal,” he said in a statement
And the trend is toward even more expensive, larger private jets such as the Gulfstream GV and Bombardier’s Global Express.
“This is at least in part due to some of the long distances traveled, but also possibly due to business rivals not wanting to be seen to be outdone by one another,” Christie said.
WEF organizers insist they are making the annual forum environmentally sustainable, offsetting the carbon emissions generated by private aviation as much as possible through their own initiatives on the ground.
“We encourage our partners from business and others to take that (offsetting measures) on,” Dominique Waughray, head of Global Public Goods at the WEF, told AFP last week.
“Most of the private aircraft that come in are actually for government officials, because under the Vienna convention the most efficient and secure way of getting people to an event like that is via an aircraft,” she said.
“So that is a sort of security brief, but we still offset them.”


Women cleared of defamation in French sexual misconduct case

In this Sept. 21, 2014 file photo, Denis Baupin, a prominent Green Party member and former Paris city official, takes part in a climate change demonstration in Paris. (AP)
Updated 57 min 20 sec ago
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Women cleared of defamation in French sexual misconduct case

  • The court considered that the women and journalists acted in good faith, which is a defense for defamation under French law

PARIS: A Paris court has dismissed a defamation case against six women who accused a former French lawmaker of sexual misconduct and the journalists who reported the allegations.
The court on Friday ordered Denis Baupin to pay 1,000 euros ($1,120) in damages to each of the 12 people he sued.
In May 2016, investigative website Mediapart and radio station France Inter published and broadcast accounts from 14 women who alleged Baupin had groped, sexted or otherwise harassed them.
The prominent Green Party member resigned as vice president of the lower House of Parliament but denied wrongdoing and launched a defamation lawsuit against the six women who were identified in the reports, some witnesses and journalists.
The case had been under particular scrutiny in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
Women rights activists have seen it as a test of French women’s ability to speak out when they think powerful men have sexually harassed or abused them — and how journalists can report it.
The court considered that the women and journalists acted in good faith, which is a defense for defamation under French law.
In addition, it considered France Inter and Mediapart respected their additional obligations: the legitimacy of journalists’ goals in producing a story, demonstrating an absence of personal animosity, prudence and balance, and the quality of the investigation.
Most of the women who spoke about Baupin’s alleged behavior from 1998 to 2013 were fellow Green Party members, and outrage greeted their descriptions.
Four filed criminal complaints for sexual harassment at the time. A nine-month judicial investigation ended without charges. Prosecutors said the three-year statute of limitations had expired, but released a statement saying the women’s “measured, constant statements” and witness corroboration created a set of facts to support allegations of actions that “may for some of them be classified as criminal.”
The cleared women greeted the ruling with tears of joy and relief.
Lawyer Claire Moleon, a lawyer for one of them, told The Associated Press that “this is a great victory.”
“This is a very strong signal given by justice. It’s putting an end to a move that we were noticing to use defamation lawsuits to put more pressure on the victims of sexual harassment and sexual abuse,” she said.
Moleon stressed that Baupin’s order to pay damages to the people he sent on trial shows that “sanctions apply” to such cases.
During the February trial, women had described, often with lots of emotion, their alleged harassment through text messages and inappropriate comments, and in some cases, alleged sexual assault attempts.
Some former officials of France’s Green Party also testified in court, saying they should have acted earlier on reports of sexual misconduct. They stressed that the #MeToo movement has raised their awareness.
Baupin’s lawyer Emmanuel Pierrat, had argued his client did nothing illegal and had filed a defamation lawsuit to “fully clear his name.”
Baupin had decided not to attend the trial.