Tails, Tiaras and CO2 Tonnage

Tuesday, 4 June 20195 minute read

The climate costs of President Trump’s state visit

Donald Trump’s State visit to the UK this week will see a staggering 2,619 tonnes of carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere — the equivalent to running an average home for 970 years.

Yes, that’s almost the equivalent of a millennium’s worth of CO2 emissions from a typical British home — in just three days.

Let’s think of this another way, just to help comprehend the vast scale of this climate-impacting trip: the 800 tonnes emitted by the President and his entourage each day is what a typical person would emit over a hundred years — should they live that long of course.

So behind all the pomp and red carpet ceremonies is an invisible but very real cost, a huge climate impact.

We at Pure Planet thought it would be useful to try and work out the impact of this carbon calamity, especially since the President is a well known climate change denier.

The President and First Lady disembarking one of their jets

The President and First Lady arrived on one of two heavily modified Boeing 747 jets — dubbed Air Force One — with the other one reportedly carrying the President’s adult children and other officials.

Almost as recognisable as the planes are the President’s two identical seven-seat armoured limousines dubbed The Beast. These are both brought on any foreign visit and make up part of the 30-car motorcade.

The Beast in action

This arrived ahead of the President on US Air Force cargo planes. The exact number varies depending on the visit and is kept secret but we have estimated four planes were used.

The commander in chief is also not constrained to roads when travelling abroad and shortly after arriving on Monday 3 June, a formation of two ‘Marine One’ choppers and three Chinook twin-rotor military helicopters led by a UK police helicopter were seen flying over central London.

President Trump saluting from a ‘Marine One’ chopper

On top of this, up to 1,000 people, including secret service agents, staff, military aides and members of the press accompany the President on trips and make advance visits to check security arrangements.

The President’s exact transport configuration and the efficiency of military planes is often kept secret, but based on official emissions figures Pure Planet estimates:

  • The President’s two Boeing 747s each burn 11 tonnes of fuel per hour to make the seven hour return trip from Washington DC to London which will add 979 tonnes of extra CO2 to the atmosphere.
  • Four USAF heavy lift planes — such as a C-17 Globemaster — each burn around 9 tonnes of fuel per hour so flying the same route adds a further 1,600 tonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere.
  • Sikorsky-S76C helicopters — a variant of Marine One — each burn around 105 gallons of fuel per hour — estimating they spend three hours in the air on each of the three days it would add an extra 7.9 tonnes of CO2.
  • The three Chinooks each burn 358 gallons of fuel per hour — if they were to fly for approximately three hours on each of the three days that would add an extra 27 tonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere.
  • According to reports, the Beast limousines get just under four miles to the gallon so covering an estimated 250 miles during the visit would use 568 litres of fuel and emit 1.2 tonnes of CO2.
  • Much of the rest of the motorcade is made up of larger SUV-type vehicles such as the Chevrolet Suburban which achieve around 16 mpg. If 28 other vehicles managed this MPG it would burn 1,986 litres of fuel would dump an additional 4.3 tonnes of CO2 into our atmosphere.
  • Finally, the President is well known for his love of burgers. He even once served them to a championship winning college football team when they visited the White House. But beef is one of the most environmentally harmful meats to produce. If Trump munched down on a burger before bed every night it would add 12 kg of CO2 during the visit.

The President’s record on climate change during his time in the Oval Office has already been a cause of criticism.

Trump’s most high profile rejection of climate change since entering office has been withdrawing the USA out of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The American President also once famously tweeted that the concept of global warming was “created by and for the Chinese”. Trump said climate change is a Chinese hoax. But we all know it is no joke. The emissions from this state visit are vast.

Based on our calculations, President Trump’s state visit is equivalent to almost a millennium’s worth of emissions from a typical home. It is a staggering large amount.

We think Trump’s administration could do much more to help climate change by leading by example — acknowledge it, stop cutting environmental protection policies in the States, invest in renewables, and recommit to the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Pure Planet Members show that we can all take action, even if presidents don’t.

And if you haven’t chosen a renewable energy supplier for your home yet — do. It’s easy to switch; it only takes a minute or two. And it is the biggest single thing you can do to reduce your carbon footprint today.

You can switch to clean, green renewables with Pure Planet in 60 seconds. Start by getting a quote here.