Europe's 4 Greenest Leaders - And Worst Polluters?

europe greenest leaders worst polluters photo

Photo via Flickr

Europe is a pioneering force in cutting greenhouse gases and supporting environmentally friendly measures—just look at their far superior mass transit systems, fledgling cap and trade system (hey, they're trying), and strong support for alternative energy. But European leaders have their dirty secrets, too. Their dirty pollution pumping secrets, that is. The French environmental website Terra Eco recently broke down the impacts of the European heads of state with the biggest carbon footprint. So which European leaders talk the talk but pollute the bloc? The judgments were made based on the amount of carbon the leaders emitted on their extensive air travels last year, and the study took into account the different kinds of planes and transit the leaders used. Could this mean carbon footprint war between Euro leaders? Here are the 4 green European heads of state that are the worst environmental offenders:

green europe leader polluter zapatero photo

Photo via Biografias y Vidas

4. Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Prime Minister of Spain

Zapatero has been instrumental in helping Spain become a world leader in wind power and clean energy. But Mr. Zapatero took 26 trips abroad last year, and 48 trips by helicopter across Spain—leading to a grand total of 6,700 tons of CO2 emitted. Even though the Super Puma helicopter is designed to be exceptionally low emitting, it nonetheless contributes to a pretty hefty sum. When he goes abroad, he takes the Airbus 310—a converted passenger plane that could seat 220 people.

green europe leader polluter sarkozy photo

Photo via Commentary Magazine

3. Nicolas Sarkozy, President of France

Sarkozy has been instrumental in urging fellow European heads of state to meet Kyoto emission targets, even in an ailing economy. Meanwhile, he was responsible for emitting 7,100 tons of carbon dioxide all by his lonesome. But the remarkable thing about Sarkozy is that he traveled more than twice as many kilometers (324,000 km—nearly 8 times around the eart) as the number one offender on the list did. And he still pumped out 1,000 tons less. How'd he do it? By using a more efficient kind of aircraft, is all—an Airbus 319. However, Sarkozy is poised to start traveling in a new Airbus A330, and if he keeps his travel habits the same, he'll pollute 12,500 tons of carbon each year.

green europe leader polluter merkel photo

Photo via Daylife

2. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany

Germany has been a strong proponent of clean energy. They've got plans for the world's largest biogas plant and have focused heavily on wind power. But it turns out that Chancellor Merkel could use a little greening herself. She travels almost exclusively (for long distances) by Airbus 310—the same gas hog Zapatero takes abroad—even when making short jumps across her own country. Her grand total of CO2 emitted is 7,400 tons—1,290 of which were generated in Germany alone.

green europe leader polluter gordon brown photo

Photo via Welt

1. Gordon Brown, British Prime Minister

And now for the biggest offender: Mr. Gordon Brown. Despite England's prominent support for clean energy policies and commitment to fighting climate change, Brown was responsible for emitting 8,400 tons of CO2—and he traveled less than any of the others. So how'd he get so dirty? By taking the some of the least efficient planes available: the Boeing 747, 757, and 777 for most of his travels. If there's a lesson to be learned from Eco Terra's comparison, it's that it truly does matter how you travel.

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