The Cost of Obama’s Monday Dinner in Paris Could Offset 400 Tons of Carbon

Evan Vucci/AP

After a hard day’s work at the climate talks in Paris, US president Barack Obama and French president François Hollande sat down Monday night with their top advisers for dinner.

The group of twelve—including secretary of state John Kerry—had a range of delicacies to choose when Hollande took them to L’Ambroisie restaurant, a three-starred restaurant in the Marais whose menu (link in French) includes lobster fricassee with Saint-Germain-style mashed peas and roasted chicken from Bresse in butter with ravioli of white Alba truffles.

When a reporter asked Obama what he planned to eat, he said he would be taking his cue from Hollande and jokingly told reporters snapping photos to be careful in the restaurant: “Don’t break the chandelier. You can’t afford it.”

The reporter probably couldn’t afford anything in the restaurant, with customers paying up to €360 ($380) per person, according to Michelin(link in French). If Obama and Hollande’s party all ordered a decent spread at the top end of the à la carte menu—and they probably did—that comes to €4,320 for just food for the whole group. Let’s generously say €4,500, including some nice wine.

With that, you could offset around 400 tons of carbon, a spokesperson for Carbon Footprint told Quartz, which could help plant 340 trees in Kenya, for example. It could even be 460 tons of carbon, if the money was invested in wind turbines. The conference itself is set to create its own massive carbon footprint. Wired estimates that the Paris climate talks will emit 300,000 tons of CO2. Obama’s flight to Paris emitted roughly 189 tons on its own, according to Daily Caller. It seems somewhat counterintuitive to burn so much carbon to go to a talk about carbon reduction.

To fight those accusations, the French government will offset all emissions from travel of registered participants, as well as those from the conference facilities and local operations, by investing in the UN’s Adaptation Fund.

That’s a hefty bill. Even heftier than a Michelin-starred meal.

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