As the world experiences shocking extreme weather due to the climate emergency, there’s increasing attention on celebrities’ use of private jets. The Twitter account @celebjets uses publicly available data to announce whenever a jet associated with a star takes to the skies. It also publishes the carbon released by the flight, and this data, along with the regularity of jets being used, has been greeted by surprise from fans.
A Rolling Stone article has now turned the attention on one star with a very vocal fandom: Taylor Swift. It says that Swift’s jet flew 170 times between Jan. 1 and July 19, creating estimated total flight emissions of 8,293.54 tonnes of carbon, “1,184.8 times more than the average person’s total annual emissions.” That’s not a good look.
Swift’s team pushed back, saying that it wasn’t her on all those flights: “Taylor’s jet is loaned out regularly to other individuals,” a spokesperson said. Yet, those flights all took place, and the bigger question that fans have is: did they all need to? True, emissions from pop stars’ private flights are small when compared to the emissions of the wider aviation industry, but they are also seen as figureheads, and have the power to change conversations through behaviour. Stars may start to feel the heat from fans if they are thought to be polluters: could fans vote with their feet and force pop stars to address their role in the climate emergency?
The other takeaway here is one that may make us uncomfortable: we want pop stars to play concerts and do media appearances near to where we are, and they have to get there somehow, often under a tight schedule – and under these circumstances, artists turn to private jets. We can and should talk about pop stars’ personal travel carbon footprints, but let’s talk about the carbon released by millions of fans travelling to and from those artists’ stadium shows too. We discussed this on a recent Music Ally podcast, and the answers here are hard and take time: local political pressure and much better public transport options are the holistic solution.
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