U.S. President Joe Biden raised eyebrows this week by commuting to the COP26 climate summit — a daily 90-mile commute — escorted by 20 heavy, gas-consuming SUVs and a helicopter.
On Monday, the first day of the summit, the president clearly showed that the U.S. is taking the lead in fighting climate change while urging his fellow world leaders to take the global warming issue seriously.
“Right now, we’re still falling short,” Biden said, laying out his ambitious plans to curb greenhouse gasses. “There’s no more time to hang back or sit on the fence or argue amongst ourselves,” he added.
“This is the challenge of our collective lifetimes, the existential threat to human existence as we know it and every day we delay, the cost of inaction increases,” Biden told the crowd at COP26 adding that, “So, let this be the moment when we answer history’s call here in Glasgow….Let this be the start of a decade of transformative action.”
Biden traveled with his presidential limo, a modified, 20,000 pound, armor-plated Cadillac, dubbed “The Beast”, with a 244-horsepower engine that creates an estimated 8.75 pounds of carbon exhaust for every mile; that’s ten times a regular vehicle. Then, there’s another “Beast” traveling with the convoy as a decoy.
Critics estimate that every day the two “Beasts” belch out 1575 pounds of CO2 when making the trip from Edinburgh to Glasgow and back. If Biden stays for the whole conference, until at least Nov. 12, the possible exhaust from both limos will be just under 20,000 pounds.
Unsurprisingly, Biden’s motorcade triggered quite a bit of sarcasm on social media.
“Now @JoeBiden is just taking the P, isn’t he? Hypocrite. Joe Biden’s gas-guzzling motorcade is spotted at BP garage,” Radio-host Jon Gaunt fulminated before his 30.6K followers on Twitter.
Another netizen going by the name @Newcoinvestor joked: “That convoy looks absolutely smashing for the environment,” Express reported.
On Friday, Biden also visited the Pope in Rome bringing along with him a fleet of 85 heavy-duty, retrofitted, gas-guzzling limos, SUVs, and vans before heading to the G20 summit over the weekend.
Biden is normally accompanied by about a dozen personnel into such meetings, and his entourage typically consists of a security detail and his presidential press team.
The length of the parade on Friday may be due to stiffer COVID-19 measures that Italy has implemented, which reportedly only allows two passengers per vehicle.
Calculations suggest the president’s carbon footprint for the 13-day COP26 meeting will generate an estimated 2.2 million pounds of carbon. The bulk of which will come from his airborne entourage; Air Force One, a heavily modified Boeing 747 he travels on, an identical decoy, and two huge C-17 Globemaster planes to transport his squadron of cars and helicopters.
However, it’s all justifiable, according to a senior administration official quoted by the Daily Mail, “Just as [Biden] has been today with leaders around the world, the president has been robustly engaging with folks all around Washington, bringing them together and driving forward action at a pace and a scale that meets the moment on climate,” the spokesperson said.