Taylor Swift made headlines this week when she was named the ‘biggest celebrity carbon polluter of the year’.
Swift’s private jet was in service for 170 of the first 200 days of the year, emitting 8,293.54 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) — 1,184.8 times what a normal person emits each year, according to a report from sustainable marketing firm Yard.
A spokesperson for the Grammy-winning singer said Swift’s jet is “regularly lent to other individuals” and “attributing most or all of these trips to her is blatantly inaccurate.”
However, many people have taken to Twitter to criticize her, with one claiming that 170 flights is a “horrible amount in a short space of time.”
But does Swift really deserve this criticism?
in a new one reportNortheastern University academics argue that focusing on individual celebrities’ carbon footprints diverts responsibility from fossil fuel companies.
However, they said that celebrities still need to make climate-conscious travel choices, to set an example for their followers.
Swift’s private jet was in service for 170 of the first 200 days of the year, emitting 8,293.54 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) — 1,184.8 times what a normal person emits each year, according to a report from sustainable marketing agency Yard.
|Name||Number of flights in 2022||Tons of CO2|
In their new report, the researchers acknowledge that the controversy surrounding Swift’s carbon emissions has been a great opportunity to raise awareness about the ethics of flying.
dr. Laura Kuhl, assistant professor of public policy and urban affairs and international affairs at Northeastern, said, “I’m thrilled that the issue of the ethical considerations of flying is being addressed.
‘The impact of flying, even if they are commercial flights, is really huge.’
While the majority (57 percent) of transportation emissions in the US come from cars, flights account for eight percent of emissions, according to the researchers.
Compared to commercial flights, private jets are very inefficient – both because of the length of the flights they usually operate, and because of the number of passengers.
A spokesperson for the Grammy-winning singer said Swift’s “jet is regularly lent to other individuals” and “attributing most or all of these trips to her is blatantly inaccurate.” Here she is pictured with her mother on her private jet
Companies with the highest emissions
- BHP Billiton
- Saudi Aramco
- National Iranian Oil
- Coal India
- CNPC (PetroChina)
dr. Kuhl points out that many private jet flights are relatively short, with some, such as Kylie Jenner’s flight on Sunday, lasting just minutes.
Most of the emissions are generated during takeoff and landing, making these short flights particularly inefficient.
“There is really no circumstance in which flying is more efficient than driving,” said Dr. Kuhl.
However, the researchers say the focus on individual celebrities’ carbon footprints diverts responsibility from the leading cause of carbon emissions – fossil fuel companies.
“It is true that the majority of emissions are generated by a small number of fossil fuel companies that stimulate the supply of fossil fuels,” said Dr Kuhl.
‘We must absolutely not lose sight of the need for regulation.’
A report in 2017 entitled the Carbon Majors Reportrevealed that just 100 companies are responsible for 71 percent of global carbon emissions.
Companies such as ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and Chevron are the companies with the highest emissions since 1988, according to the report.
But instead of taking responsibility for these emissions, many of these companies are shifting the blame onto consumers, Dr. Kuhl said.
She highlights the fact that the term ‘carbon footprint’ was coined in 2004 by British Petroleum to describe how individual actions are driving climate change.
“They wanted to put the problem on the consumers, with individual responsibility,” said Dr. kuhl.
Overall, Dr. Kuhl says she doesn’t think taking responsibility for carbon emissions is an “either/or” situation.
“We have to tackle it from all sides,” she said.
Alexandra Meise, an associate professor at the Northeastern School of Law, adds, “Individuals may not be able to make the same contribution, but that doesn’t mean individuals can’t make a difference.
“If we’re going to hit the targets experts say are needed to keep global temperature increases below that magical 1.5 degrees Celsius they need to avoid catastrophic consequences, we’re going to need every little bit we can get.”
WHAT ARE THE UK’S PLANS FOR ‘NET ZERO’ CARBON EMISSIONS?
Plans to make the UK ‘carbon neutral’ by 2050 were released by Theresa May’s government on 12 June 2019.
However, experts are concerned about how the proposals will work.
The report promises to ensure that emissions generated by the UK are offset by removing the same amount of carbon from the atmosphere.
This can be achieved in two ways: by planting more trees and by installing carbon capture technology at the source of the pollution.
Some critics are concerned that this first option will be used by the government to export its carbon offsets to other countries.
International carbon credits allow countries to continue emitting carbon while paying for trees planted elsewhere, offsetting their emissions.
Some argue that the scheme is a way for developed countries to evade their environmental obligations by passing them on to poor and developing countries.