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Above It All
Michael Bloomberg is giving hundreds of millions of dollars to groups that want to ban gas stoves. Last year, his private jets burned 328,000 gallons of jet fuel.
Back in 1989, during her trial for tax evasion, one of Leona Helmsley’s former employees quoted her as saying “We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.”
Helmsley was a super-rich New Yorker who richly deserved her title: the “Queen of Mean.” As reported by Forbes, “In her heyday, she was as big as Donald Trump or Kim Kardashian.” After a trial that generated enormous media attention, Helmsley was convicted of tax evasion and spent about 21 months in prison.
Although Helmsley died in 2007, her attitude about “little people” lives on today.
It can be seen by looking at the travel predilections of four of the richest people on earth, two of whom are giving hundreds of millions of dollars to groups like the Sierra Club, Rocky Mountain Institute, Climate Imperative, and others that are pushing for bans on gas stoves, as well as policies that will impose regressive energy taxes on the poor and middle class. Indeed, at the same time these climate aristocrats are preaching about the need to take drastic action on climate change, they are flying around the globe in private jets that burn staggering amounts of jet fuel and emit thousands of tons of carbon dioxide every year.
Topping the list of these high-flying hypocrites is former New York City mayor and multi-billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who has been aggressively pushing for action on climate change for a decade. In 2014, he was named the United Nations’ special envoy for cities and climate change. In 2018, he was appointed the U.N.’s special envoy for climate change. In 2019, while running for the White House, Bloomberg said “We have to start working as hard as we can building a 100% clean energy economy because the alternative is just too bad for all of us.”
In 2021, Bloomberg penned an op-ed for USA Today with Prince William that was headlined “We’re in a race to save Earth from climate change.” The article touted the new Earthshot Prize which is aimed at, among other things “building a waste-free world and fixing our climate.”
As I reported in these pages on January 26, Bloomberg, who has about a dozen houses, has pledged $500 million through his Bloomberg Philanthropies to a group called Beyond Carbon. Every year, about $30 million of Bloomberg’s money is going to the Sierra Club, which is leading the effort to ban the use of natural gas in homes and businesses. On Twitter, Beyond Carbon says it is “spearheaded by @MikeBloomberg. Beyond Carbon is the largest coordinated campaign to tackle the climate crisis ever undertaken in the United States.”
On its website, Beyond Carbon says it is funding “state and local organizations working to pass climate and clean energy policies, including 100% clean energy laws, targets and timetables to phase out climate pollution, and implementation of programs to expand low-carbon transit...[and] grow the climate movement through partnership at all levels including expanding support for grassroots organizations and frontline communities.”
That expansion of low-carbon transit doesn’t appear to include Bloomberg’s jets. According to ClimateJets.org, Bloomberg, or people connected to him, used five aircraft which emitted about 3,197 tons of CO2 in 2022. That number puts Bloomberg in the top 10 of all private jet owners in terms of emissions. For comparison, the average American is responsible for about 16 tons of CO2 emissions per year. In other words, Bloomberg’s fleet of jets is emitting about 200 times more CO2 per year than what’s emitted by the average American.
Bloomberg’s fleet of jets is emitting about 200 times more CO2 per year than what’s emitted by the average American.
Here’s another comparison: the 328,000 gallons of jet fuel that were burned in Bloomberg’s jets last year is about 670 times more than the volume of gasoline consumed by an average American motorist. According to the American Petroleum Institute, the average American vehicle owner burns about 489 gallons of dino juice per year.
The jet travel of Bloomberg and other elites are being tracked by a 17-year-old Seattle-based math and computer whiz named Akash Shendure, who runs ClimateJets.org. The site ranks more than 150 people and families on the estimated carbon dioxide emissions of their private jet travel.
Laurene Powell Jobs provides another example of the rank hypocrisy of the climate aristocracy. Jobs is one of The Billionaires Behind The Gas Bans. She was a founding board member of Climate Imperative, a new climate activist group that is spending more than $200 million per year to push “rapid scaling of renewable energy, widespread electrification of buildings and transportation, stopping the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure, reducing pollution from major industrial sources, and economy-wide pathways to reduce emissions.”
As I noted in January, Jobs appears to be one of the biggest funders of Climate Imperative. In 2022, Jobs, or people connected to her, took 141 flights on her Gulfstream G650, which burns about 500 gallons of jet fuel per hour. According to ClimateJets, Jobs’ airplane burned about 143,000 gallons of jet fuel last year, or roughly 292 times more than the amount of gasoline consumed by an average American motorist. (Since I broke the story about Climate Imperative and its massive budget, Jobs has apparently resigned from the group’s board.)
Elon Musk, who made the bulk of his vast fortune by selling electric vehicles, has declared that “climate change is the biggest threat that humanity faces this century.” Last year, Musk, or people connected to him, took 190 flights on his Gulfstream G650ER, which burned 174,000 gallons of jet fuel. That amounts to about 356 times the amount of liquid hydrocarbons that are consumed by an average American motorist.
Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook, has also been outspoken about climate change. In 2017, during a commencement address at Harvard University, he said “It's time for our generation-defining public works... How about stopping climate change before we destroy the planet and getting millions of people involved in manufacturing and installing solar panels?" He continued, “no country can fight climate change alone or prevent pandemics... Progress now requires coming together not just as cities or nations, but also as a global community." Facebook itself claims that it is “eliminating our own carbon footprint and are working to get our suppliers to be net zero.” It is also “taking new steps to combat climate misinformation.”
Last year, Zuckerberg, or people connected to him, took 367 flights on four aircraft which burned 243,000 gallons of jet fuel and in doing so emitted about 2,372 tons of carbon dioxide.
To paraphrase Helmsley, the super-rich, hyper-mobile elites who are warning us about the danger of climate change and are funding the anti-industry groups that want to prevent Americans from using natural gas in their homes and businesses, appear to have the attitude of We don’t fly commercial. Only the little people fly commercial.
When it comes to climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Bloomberg, Jobs, Musk, and Zuckerberg, are, literally, above it all.