The rich should pay more: No more luxury
Left leader Martin Schirdewan calls for a ban on private jets. This can only be a start. Nobody harms the climate as much as the super-rich.
Sunday night the sky was full over Los Angeles. The Oscars had just been awarded, the acceptance speeches held and the champagne drained, the first invited guests got into their private jets to be flown home. That’s just how it is when the super-rich in the USA come together for major events or just feel like traveling from A to B. The news that the musician Taylor Swift has already saved more than eight thousand tons of CO with flights in a private jet within the first 200 days of 20222 has recently provoked a lot of memes and excitement on the net.
But the super-rich who rely on private jets out of laziness, luxury and recklessness are not a US phenomenon. The number of private jet flights has also increased in Germany, according to research by NDR and SZ they were at a record high in 2022. The route from Hamburg to Sylt alone is said to have been flown 508 times last year. Left leader Martin Schirdewan is now using this number to argue in his call for a ban on private jets.
But what about freedom? You can hear the FDP gasping. The question should actually be: how much longer are we going to accept the luxury of a few at the expense of the freedom of the many?
A ban on CO2-intensive means of travel such as private jets and yachts can only be a start, because we simply can no longer afford the rich. Because of their lifestyle and their investments, they have a CO2-Footprint that is a thousand times larger than that of an average person. According to Oxfam, one billionaire emits as many greenhouse gases as one million people. All the different numbers and studies on the subject can be broken down to: Wealth harms the climate. The richer people are, the more greenhouse gases they produce.
The climate crisis is also a justice crisis
But instead of a policy that puts a stop to it, the super-rich get a kind of free pass to destroy the climate. And civil society watches and, depending on the season, gets caught up in debates about whether it’s okay to fly to Mallorca once a year or turn up the heating in early November. Even climate activists like the last generation address the middle class with their choice of protest form and their demands.
It is clear that the climate crisis must be solved politically. At the same time, each individual is responsible for his or her behavior. But to combat the climate crisis effectively, we must understand it for what it is: a crisis of justice. So that those who cause them are held more accountable.
There are various suggestions as to how this could be done. A much discussed idea is that of a C02-Budgets with options for action: Less CO2 into the atmosphere, each person has a budget of around three tons at their disposal. If you don’t want to do without a pool, yacht and private jet, you have to buy from those who use less. Certainly this measure would lead to some shifts in consumption and money, but it also opens the door to abuse. Because we know that when the rich want something from the poor, they get it.
First attempts abroad: Proposition 30
A climate tax for the rich would be more effective, i.e. a CO2-Taxation that is not based on consumption (like a tax on petrol or meat) but on wealth and thus asks those primarily responsible to pay.
There have already been first attempts abroad, such as the “Proposal 30” in California. According to the bill, anyone earning more than $2 million a year should pay an extra tax of 1.75 percent. After initial popular support, the mood turned after a campaign led by the super-rich rebelled against the draft.
So far, there have been no concrete discussions in the Bundestag about a climate tax on the wealthy. Rather the opposite is the case. In the current budget debate, Finance Minister Christian Lindner claims that there is more of a spending problem than a revenue problem. An earmarked wealth tax would fill the household coffers, provide more funds to combat the climate crisis and lead to more justice. Until then, there may still be a few mansions to be squatted and private jets taped down.