Pet dogs are bad for the environment, a luxury airline boss has suggested.
In a defense of his own industry, Patrick Hanson, boss of Luxaviation, claimed the animals are as polluting as private jets.
Speaking at a Financial Times summit, Mr Hanson claimed one of his customers’ jets emitted just 2.1 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, roughly the same as the emissions of three pet dogs.
Mr Hansen was referring to estimates by carbon footprint consultant and writer Mike Berners-Lee, who has said that a labrador has an annual carbon footprint of around 770kg.
A bigger dog, such as a Great Dane, could emit as much as 2,500kg of carbon dioxide a year because of their bigger meals.
A study last year, Environmental impact of diets for dogs and cats, suggested that wet pet food has eight times more emissions than dry food, because it has higher meat content.
Vet visits and plastic toys also add to the carbon footprint of pets.
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Some green groups recommend vegan food for cats and dogs, although there are no conclusive studies on whether animals can stay healthy on a plant-based diet.
Several vegan celebrities have got their pets on plant-based diets, including Joaquin Phoenix and Alicia Silverstone.
The vegan pet food market is predicted to rise nearly seven per cent over the next decade according to consultancy Future Market Insights.
Lewis Hamilton was criticised over his hypocrisy in 2021 after he posted a picture of his vegan dog while apparently flying in a private jet.
Mr Berners-Lee said the figure of 2.1t of CO2 seemed “suspiciously” low, and was likely only accounting for short flights taken in small planes.
A private jet can emit 2t of CO2 in one hour, according to estimates from green NGO Transport and Environment, compared to 8.2t of CO2 emitted by the average person in Europe.
A study from the group in 2021 found that private jets were 5 to 14 times more polluting than commercial planes per passenger, and 50 times more polluting than trains.
Private jets emissions increased 31 per cent between 2005 and 2019 even as concern over the impacts of climate change became mainstream.
Their use has boomed since the pandemic, rising 14 per cent between 2019 and 2022, as wealthy individuals sought to avoid the new restrictions and hassle of air travel.
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Rishi Sunak is among several public figures to have faced criticism over their use of private planes. The prime minister took £500,000 worth of private jet trips in less than a fortnight earlier this year, prompting criticism from the Liberal Democrats that the Government was “trashing their own green promises”.
Pop star Taylor Swift was forced to release a statement clarifying that her private jet was regularly loaned out to other individuals after a Twitter account calculating the emissions impact of several celebrities’ flights went viral.
Climate activists in Europe have targeted private jet use with disruption at airports, including in Geneva on Tuesday. Last year hundreds of protesters stopped private jets taking off from Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport. Five months later the airport announced that it planned to ban private jets by 2026.
Mr Hansen told the FT summit in Monaco that private jet use was “not going away, because they provide a service of time” to wealthy people.
He added that the industry was aware of criticism and working to reduce its emissions impact, although the scarcity of sustainable aviation fuels meant they were not a practical solution.
However, he said that sometimes it was better not to take planes for shorter journeys.
“We tell our customers, don’t fly from Paris to Lyon.”
Mr Hansen told the Telegraph that the comments were made “to put into perspective the actions of each and every one of us when it comes to CO2 emissions”.
“Of course, if no-one flew privately, these private jet CO2 emissions would not be emitted. And if no-one had a pet, there would be no petfood production emitting CO2,” he said.
The UK’s climate change citizens assembly, convened from a representative cross-section of society, called for a ban on private jets and a frequent flyer levy in its recommendations in 2020.
Luxaviation did not immediately respond to questions from the Telegraph about the distance or number of journeys travelled by the customer used in his example.