Many wonder if Taylor Swift She’s flying about 14,000 miles this weekend to watch her boyfriend play football. The difficulty is that Travis Kelce, her partner, will participate in the Super Bowl final that will take place this Sunday in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, but the singer will have a concert in Tokyo, Japan a few hours before. Everything happens when, once again, controversy rages over the private flights of billionaires and their impact on the pollution of the planet. And in this discussion, the artist has been in the eye of the hurricane for years.
The singer can arrive in time for the game, but only if she uses one of her private jets once again. The Private plane travel is considered one of the most carbon-intensive ways to travel.. They produce nine times more carbon per passenger than commercial flights, according to research from University College London published in 2023.
After the Super Bowl final, Taylor Swift has to travel to Melbourne, Australia, for another concert on February 16. He Washington Post has done the math: if the artist made the entire trip—with her respective stop in Las Vegas—in her Dassault Falcon 900 jet, she could burn around 8,800 gallons of fuel. This would generate about 90 tons of carbon emissions. For perspective, that’s more than all the emissions six average Americans cause in a year.
But wait, this is not against Taylor Swift. Her recurring flights illustrate a dynamic that hundreds of billionaires have incorporated into their daily lives. Guardian tracked the private trips of about 200 celebrities, businessmen and billionaires between January 2022 and November 2023. This group made 44,739 flightswhich left a carbon footprint equivalent to the total emissions of almost 40,000 Britons.
The pressure against Taylor Swift and millionaires
Why does Taylor Swift stand out compared to the rest? It all started with a report from Yard, which in June 2022 published the list of the celebrities who caused the most carbon emissions with their private flights. The singer was then ranked number one.
The report claimed that the pop star had flown 170 times between January 1 and July 19, 2022. This was equivalent to spending almost 16 days in the air. Total emissions were equivalent to 8,293 tons of carbon. Again, it’s much more than the impact that the average person makes. To be exact, 1,184.8 times more than the total annual emissions of a regular person, according to Yard research. Taylor Swift’s team then defended her by saying that she sometimes lent or rented her planes for other people to fly.
Yard’s report was based on data released by CelebrityJets on X (formerly Twitter). This is one of several broadcast channels created by Jack Sweeney, a student at the University of Central Florida, who has been tracking the planes and helicopters of hundreds of billionaires and celebrities for years.
Their accounts use public data from the United States Federal Aviation Administration. They also take advantage of the contribution of amateurs who track the planes through the signals they transmit. Through her initiative, Sweeney earned a place on Forbes’ list of influential people under 30.
But Taylor Swift got tired and now wants to take its toll on the student. The singer’s legal team recently threatened legal action. The superstar’s lawyers sent Sweeney a defense in which they assured that what she was doing corresponded to a “stalking and harassing behavior.”
“While this may be a game for you, or an avenue you hope will bring you wealth or fame, it is a matter of life and death for our client,” attorney Katie Wright Morrone wrote on behalf of Taylor Swift, in the letter. Sent last December. The singer has had to deal with people stalking her homes and, according to the legal team, the publication of her flights makes everything worse.
Does public denunciation against celebrities work?
Another famous person had already taken action against Sweeney before. Elon Musk, owner of Twitter, Tesla and SpaceX, publicly demanded that the student in 2022 stop publishing data about his private planes on X (Twitter). The tycoon also said that the initiative represented a serious risk to his security.
According to Sweeney’s account, Musk offered him $5,000 to close the @ElonJet account. In response, the student doubled down and asked for $50,000. In the end, Musk deleted the profile in dispute when he bought the social network in October 2022. Although he later allowed it to return, under the condition that he did not publish information in real time, but rather with a 24-hour delay.
A report from the US Institute of Policy Studies maintains that The tycoon took a private jet flight every two days in 2022. This caused an estimated 2,112 tons of carbon dioxide emissions that year alone.
Beyond public ridicule, Does the dissemination of this information have any impact? Taylor Swift, for example, radically changed her behavior after complaints began about her use of her private jets. She went from having an average flight frequency of 19 times a month in early 2022, to just over two flights a month last year, according to Guardian.
This week it was also revealed that the singer had sold her Dassault Falcon 900, a private jet she had owned since 2009. Taylor Swift’s team also said this month that the singer bought more than twice as many “carbon credits” necessary to offset the environmental impact of their flights. The “carbon credits” proposal implies that the person responsible for certain emissions of polluting gases must invest in projects that offset the pollution they cause. For example, investing in reforestation or CO₂ capture mechanisms.
In the follow-up that was carried out Guardian out of 200 billionaires, Taylor Swift does not appear among the main polluters. At the top of the list, published last November, are businessmen such as Leonard Blavatnikthe richest Ukrainian in the world, the tycoon’s family Rupert Murdoch and Eric Schmidtformer CEO of Google.
The rich and the climate emergency
Some environmentalists say offsets like “carbon credits” are not enough. They further argue that It is not a completely transparent initiative and is used by many industries as a strategy of greenwashing or “ecopostureo”. For this reason, activists like Greta Thunberg, for example, demand more concrete measures, such as a complete ban on private jets.
Despite the climate emergency, the use of private planes has skyrocketed since the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022, private flight activity in Europe reached its highest level since the 2007 peak. Additionally, the US Institute for Policy Studies report, published in May 2023, warned that private jet sales would reach record numbers last year.
The International Energy Agency maintains that the richest 10% of the population in many countries causes up to 40 times more carbon emissions than the poorest 10%. Therefore, the complaint against Taylor Swift and other figures like Elon Musk is a way to demonstrate the distribution of responsibilities at a general level. It is a call to action towards those who can and should do more.
Last year ended as the hottest in history. It is estimated that in 2024, for the first time, the planet will momentarily exceed 1.5 degrees of warming. The climate emergency has never been as serious as it is now.