Taylor Swift’s travel carbon footprint criticized

Taylor Swift’s travel carbon footprint criticized

Taylor Swift took a 12-hour, 5,000-mile flight this weekend from Tokyo, Japan, to Las Vegas, Nevada, to watch Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce win the Super Bowl against the San Francisco 49ers. It was his last flight on a private jet – a travel habit that has drawn criticism due to the plane’s unavoidable carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. The pop star reportedly emitted 138 tons of CO2 in three months while traveling to Kelce, Newsweek reported.

Why Taylor Swift’s Travel Habits Are Being Criticized

“Swift’s carbon emissions are extreme and polluting the atmosphere,” Leah Thomas, author of The Intersectional Environmentalist, told BBC Travel. “Carbon emissions are a leading cause of the climate crisis, as carbon in the atmosphere warms the planet, contributing to extreme weather events.”

The Grammy Award winner’s carbon footprint – the amount of carbon dioxide created by energy consumption and lifestyle – was originally revealed by Jack Sweeney, a student who tracks the use of celebrity private jets. Sweeney (legally) tracked Swift’s carbon output as well as that of other celebrities, since flight patterns, even those of celebrity-owned private jets, are public information. Sweeney posts this flight information on @SwiftJetNextDay the next day rather than in real time to further guarantee legality.

Many of Swift’s private jet trips, as Sweeney’s tracking showed, coincided with football games — including a flight to Buffalo, New York, where the musician attended the Chiefs’ game against Buffalo Bills on January 21, and a January 28 trip to Baltimore, Maryland for the game. Chiefs game against the Baltimore Ravens.

Last week, it was revealed that Swift’s legal team had sent Sweeney a cease and desist letter in December 2023, stating that his “wrongful and dangerous actions must stop” and threatening legal action against the student at the University of Central Florida. Swift’s team alleged that Sweeney’s actions endangered Swift’s safety and that it was a “matter of life and death.” In the letter, Sweeney is accused of “stalking behavior” by Swift’s attorney.

Swift has previously been criticized for her carbon footprint: her frequent private jet flights led a study by British marketing agency Yard to claim she was the No. 1 celebrity CO2 polluter in 2022, with emissions allegedly 1,100 times higher than the average person. That said, as the Washington Post noted, Yard’s analysis relied on flight data available on Twitter, was not peer-reviewed or verified, and although it tracked flights jet owned by celebrities, there is no way of knowing when or if the owners are on the jets.

Air transport in general is a major creator of CO2 emissions. Aviation accounts for 8% of carbon-related emissions in the United States, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. That said, non-stop itineraries and economy class flights are considered low-carbon choices compared to private jets. While all air travel generates carbon emissions, private jets produce far more per person – at least 10 times more carbon emissions than a commercial flight.

The good news for Swift is that “the wealthier you are, the easier it is to be sustainable,” Thomas explained. “There’s nothing wrong with holding celebrities to higher standards, because sustainability is much more accessible to them. Swift could set things right by speaking out about the climate crisis, promoting sustainable initiatives, or donating profits of his concerts to environmental organizations.”

Swift’s publicist told BBC News that she uses carbon offsets to compensate for her private jet travel. But how useful are they in making frequent air travel more sustainable?



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