Opinion | The very urgent problem exposed by Taylor Swift's private plane travel
Taylor Swift, Drake and Kylie Jenner have private plane problems after scientists and fans criticized the celebrity travel habits and Co2 climate change impact
Culture & Entertainment
It’s been a tough summer for private planes, and the ultrarich who swear by them. Reality star Kylie Jenner and pop star Taylor Swift were both the targets of widespread online outrage over their travel habits and what those flashy trips and their CO2 emissions are doing to the environment.
Amid the backlash, Swift’s spokesperson argued that the star wasn’t making all those trips herself — no, she frequently loans out her plane to friends. We’ll give Taylor credit — many celebrities don’t even try to justify their extravagant lifestyles and their huge carbon footprints.
And while celebrities are absolutely contributing to the climate crisis, it’s the carbon hypocrites who really stand out, the people like Bill Gates who travel around the world speaking about climate change while racking up hundreds of thousands of air miles in their private jets.
All the evidence shows that most of the super-rich, including many celebrities and public figures, even when they lead campaigns against climate change, are spewing way more than their share of greenhouse gases because of their private jets, superyachts, multiple houses and mobile lifestyles. And buying carbon offsets does not make the emissions go away. So while it may feel unfair to some people to single out any one celebrity for usage, it is absolutely fair to highlight the massive and disproportionate impact of celebrity private plane travel.
Last year, we published an article about the carbon footprint of billionaires because we were interested in studying the environmental impact of wealth and growing inequality. We calculated the 2018 carbon footprint of 20 international (but mostly U.S.-based) billionaires, famous for their glamorous lifestyles. We measured very conservatively, because many details were hidden from view, but we still found that the billionaires each emitted an average of 8,194 metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere in a year, compared with the average person’s less than 5 metric tons.
This means that in 2018 the average billionaire polluted our common atmosphere 1,714 times more than the average person. But even more damaging than the 3,300-plus billionaires, and relevant to the current backlash, are the high emissions from the more than 300,000 individuals classified by Wealth-X as “Ultra-High-Net-Worth” — each with more than $30 million in assets. This global elite is responsible for a major chunk of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions, more than what many sizable countries emit.