Google’s seventh annual meeting of the minds, dubbed Google Camp, is happening at a seaside resort in Sicily and this year, it is dedicated to the climate crisis. Luminaries from tech, business, entertainment and politics descended upon the Italian island to discuss ideas and solutions for tackling the climate crisis at the three-day event that costs Google upwards of $20 million, according to Business Insider.
The highly secretive event at the Verdura Resort near a UNESCO World Heritage ruins prevents attendees from posting on social media while in attendance. On the first night, Chris Martin of Coldplay performed a private concert for attendees with the Valley of the Temples ruins in nearby Agrigento as a backdrop.
The Verdura Resort is a short distance from the airport in Palermo, though many guests arrive via private helicopter or on private yachts, according to Forbes.
In fact, the Palermo airport had made preparations for the expected arrival of 114 private jets, according to Giornale Di Sicilia. The influx of private jets, private yachts, helicopters, sports cars and limousines seems in stark contrast to the theme of the conference. By contrast, Greta Thunberg, the teenage activist, eschews meat, dairy and air travel, to mitigate her carbon footprint. She will sail to New York from Europe to attend the UN Climate Summit next month.
The transportation of the various guests, including Barack Obama, Leonardo DiCaprio, Harry Styles, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Mark Zuckerberg, and Diane Von Furstenberg amongst many others have drawn condemnation on social media and in the press. After all, a flight from New York to Palermo, Sicily, generates around 4.24 metric tons of CO2, or the equivalent of 540,652 smart phones being charged at one time, according to EuroNews. That’s a lot of carbon for just a few people. And, that doesn’t include the greenhouse gasses emitted by the 2,300 horsepower diesel-engine private yachts.
One Twitter user commented, “Several #celebrities, wealthy and famous people have arrived in Sicily for #Google summit to discuss climate change. Are these folks going to push for a bill to be passed to ban use of private jets and mega yachts?” as Fox News reported.
Several #celebrities, wealthy and famous people have arrived in Sicily for #Google summit to discuss climate change. Are these folks going to push for a bill to be passed to ban use of private jets and mega yachts?
— breezabeach (@breezabeach) August 1, 2019
And another wrote, “The hypocrisy of all these celebrities and billionaires that are traveling to a climate change summit in their private jets! The fact that Google spent $20bn on this initiative just shows that they’d rather look the part than be the part! Put that money INTO ACTION! not a parade!”
The hypocrisy of all these celebrities and billionaires that are travelling to a climate change summit in their private jets!The fact that Google spent $20bn on this initiative just shows that they’d rather look the part than be the part! Put that money INTO ACTION!not a parade!
— R (@rahilkn) August 1, 2019
And, after Prince Harry gave an impassioned speech about saving nature in his bare-feet at the conference, one New York Post columnist wrote, “It doesn’t get much sillier than being lectured on carbon footprints by a prince whose family rattles around in multiple palaces.”
“While the facts remain, following the influx of private vehicles to Google’s Italian retreat, there is an argument to be made that both the coverage generated and the environmental awareness resulting from it, makes it all worth it. To center such an important event around climate change in this day and age is a positive step in the right direction, given the amount of influential figures in attendance, all with staggering platforms to effect change all around the world.
‘To have them all in one place, working together to achieve a common goal that could really make a difference along the road to becoming carbon neutral before 2050 – perhaps the positives outweigh the negatives? And even if you disagree, at least the very fact they all arrived in such sheer extravagance has brought all the more attention to the event and the eco themes surrounding it!”