Like Taylor Swift, Drake and celebrities with private jets influence the weather


Music megastars Taylor Swift and Jay-Z are no strangers to being at the top of the charts. But recently the two Grammy-winning artists found themselves at the forefront of a new list: “Celebrities with the worst CO2 emissions of the private jet”.

The flight data analytics, which was released online Friday by a UK-based sustainability marketing agency, came in the wake of other famous celebrities like Kylie Jenner and Drake, who have withstood intense public criticism. after it was revealed that their private spitting emissions the jets recorded journeys of just 17 minutes and 14 minutes respectively.

Using data from a popular Twitter account which tracks jet flights owned by famous people, the marketing agency found that so far this year, the planes owned by celebrities have emitted an average of more than 3,376 tons of CO2, about 480 times more than the annual emissions of an average person. Swift’s jet has been identified as “the biggest celebrity CO2e polluter this year so far,” amassing 170 flights since January with emissions totaling more than 8,293 tons, according to the analysis, which has not been audited. equal. An aircraft owned by boxer Floyd Mayweather finished second, emitting approximately 7,076 tons of CO2, with a recorded journey lasting just 10 minutes. Jay-Z’s jet was third with 136 flights totaling approximately 6,981 tons of emissions.

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In a statement to the Washington Post, a Swift spokesperson said, “Taylor’s jet is regularly loaned to other people. To attribute most or all of these trips to her is patently incorrect. Representatives from Mayweather and Jay-Z did not respond to requests for comment.

While the analysis finds that his list “is not conclusive” and there is “no way to determine if these celebrities were on all recorded flights,” the authors stressed that the report’s purpose is “to highlight the impact. harmful use of private jet use “- a reality that is critically important for frequent flyers and the public to acknowledge, according to several experts who were not involved in the study of flight data. Many other people often rely on private jets, including politicians, government officials, athletes, business leaders and wealthy individuals.

“A short jump in a private jet requires you to lift a 10 to 20-ton jet into the air and then move it from point A to point B,” said Peter DeCarlo, associate professor of environmental health and engineering at Johns Hopkins University who studies the ‘air pollution. “I know nobody likes to be stuck in traffic, but you’re not throwing your car in the air. … The act of taking a huge piece of metal and lifting it into the sky will represent a huge carbon footprint that isn’t really necessary, especially for this kind of short distance. “

And although DeCarlo and other experts have acknowledged that an outright ban on private jet travel, which can meet essential transportation needs in certain situations, is not the solution, they have encouraged people, especially celebrities with significant social influence, to consider the environmental impact of their choices and the message they might send.

“There are valid claims that grounding private jets probably won’t do what we need to go in the right direction with regard to climate change, but that’s just a bad optic,” DeCarlo said. If people view celebrities as role models, “they want to emulate that behavior. So, a private jet becomes a status symbol and something people aspire to, and it’s not what we need right now in the context of the climate. “

Counting the environmental cost

A report released last year by Transport & Environment, a leading European clean transport campaign group, found that a single private jet can emit 2 tonnes of CO2 in just one hour. To put it in context, the average person in the EU produces around 8.2 tonnes of emissions over the course of a full year, according to the report.

But while these jets are often largely nipped for their environmental impact, it’s important to think about their emissions compared to other forms of transport, said Chris Field, director of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University.

Compared to fuel-efficient commercial airplanes and climate-friendly cars, such as hybrid or electric vehicles, emissions per passenger mile are substantially higher for private jets, which typically carry fewer passengers and travel shorter distances. Field stated. But, she noted, the fuel economy of a private jet with a reasonable number of passengers could be comparable to a single person driving a Ford F-150 pickup.

“There is a certain level of environmental irresponsibility in a person driving an F-150, and certainly the same could be said about business jet travel,” he added.

Environmental concerns about private jets stem largely from how common they have become and how they are used, for example, making short trips or flying empty planes to more convenient airstrips, said Colin Murphy, Deputy Director of the Policy Institute. for Energy, Environment and Economics from the University of California at Davis. Not only do private jet users travel extensively, “but they do so in a generally less efficient way than if they were sitting in the seat of a coach in a 777 or any of the conventional commercial airliners.”

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A short trip in a private jet underscores “the less efficient parts of the plane’s duty cycle,” Murphy said, noting that a huge amount of fuel is burned during takeoff and bringing a plane to altitude. “You have all the emissions from taxiing, engine heating and takeoff and climb and not so much from the cruise, where you are actually covering the distance.”

In response to criticism of the flights that lasted less than 20 minutes, rapper Drake commented on Instagram, writing: “It is only they who move planes to any airport where they are stored for anyone interested in logistics … no one takes that flight. “

But moving planes without passengers is another “really problematic use” of private jets, Murphy said.

“What you are doing is burning many hundreds or thousands of gallons of jet fuel to save a load of people or a couple of cars of people in just a few hours,” he said. “Is this really the compromise we want to say acceptable in a world where climate change is no longer a future crisis, but a current crisis?”

Comparison between private and commercial

In general, according to experts, smaller planes have worse fuel consumption than larger planes. “A fully loaded 737 has about the same emissions per passenger mile as an efficient car like a Prius,” Murphy said.

While larger commercial planes require more fuel, they often carry far more people, and all passengers on the flight share the overall fuel consumption of the trip, DeCarlo said. But keep in mind, Field said, that a first-class or business-class seat can often result in a higher carbon footprint than a budget seat.

One of the main advantages of private flight, however, is convenience.

“We live in a society where, among the richest, the kind of convenience trumps everything else,” Field said, “and we would all benefit from keeping the emphasis on convenience in perspective.”

Getting rid of private jets isn’t the answer to our climate problem, experts said. Although per capita emissions from private travel are large, they are still not as significant as those produced by the much larger commercial aviation industry, DeCarlo said.

Additionally, there are situations where this type of air travel is necessary, such as during medical emergencies or the transport of organ donations, Field says. “Sometimes it’s really crucial to get the right team to the right place at the right time, and that’s what business jets can do.”

Instead of banning private jets, experts said it might be more effective to explore regulations or policies aimed at reducing the amount of unnecessary travel.

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“You can imagine political levers that force you to avoid it, you can imagine economic levers that would make it so expensive that it isn’t worth it, or regulatory things that make it a nuisance,” Field said. “I am in favor of anything that is effective at reducing truly frivolous travel without eliminating the travel that really makes a difference.”

There is probably no benefit to “demonizing business jets,” Field said. Rather, he said, people should take responsibility for their actions and take into account the environmental footprint of what they do in decision making.

Potential for sustainability

While electric aircraft prototypes are still in development, private and commercial aviation should benefit from high-quality carbon offsets and more sustainable alternatives to biomass, algae or plant-based jet fuel, Field said. At the moment, most of these fuels are generally better than oil, but Murphy noted that “they are not zero emissions”.

In addition to reducing travel, private jet users should consider changing the way they fly, Field said. Longer flights carrying more passengers can help with overall efficiency, she said, and flying directly instead of stopping for connections can make a difference.

While finding a long-term sustainable solution for private and commercial air travel is only one piece of the puzzle, experts have encouraged travelers to do their part.

“It will be really hard to imagine a world where we will largely manage to limit climate change to not too many degrees above historical averages, when people still fly in oil-powered private jets at the speed they are now,” Murphy said. .

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