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Is Taylor Swift a threat to net zero?

A staggering 882 private jets were seen leaving Las Vegas after this year’s Super Bowl, with 82 heading to Los Angeles just an hour away. 

Why is this significant? According to the International Energy Agency, private jets are responsible for emitting around 800m tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, which accounts for more than 2% of total energy-related emissions globally. 

One celebrity who has come under criticism for her use of jet travel is the ‘Anti-Hero’ - Taylor Swift. 

Taylor’s private jet emitted an estimated 8,000 – 10,000 tonnes of CO2 last year. To put this into perspective, the average person is said to produce 0.5 – 20 tonnes of CO2 annually. Meanwhile, Taylor Swift’s 13-hour flight to this year’s Superbowl from Tokyo to Las Vegas emitted more than 50 tonnes of pollution, and her flight between New Jersey and Baltimore, which took only 37 minutes, produced three tonnes of CO2.

Is there a moral obligation on these A-listers to minimise their jet travel emissions?

This is where carbon offsetting can come in. Carbon offsetting is the concept of essentially ‘paying off’ the carbon emissions you have released. Private jet goers can buy carbon credits which are then used to fund projects such as reforestation and waste management schemes. However, carbon offsetting is already being challenged for not effectively addressing the root of the problem. WWF described carbon offsetting as a ‘last resort’ as there is no definitive way to assess how much CO2 will be absorbed by any of the projects or schemes being funded by the purchase of carbon credits.

However, one band that must be praised for its efforts to reduce its carbon footprint is Coldplay. On its last world tour, Coldplay dramatically reduced its carbon emissions by powering shows from bicycles and electricity-producing dance floors, and by planting a tree for every ticket sold. By the end of the tour, the band produced 47% less CO2 emissions than its previous world tour.

Coldplay is a great example of why it is essential to make a fuss over celebrities’ impact on the environment. Coldplay is now aware of its impact on the climate and has already looked towards greener alternatives that are readily available. 

Encouragingly, new methods for creating a more sustainable means of air travel are also being swiftly developed. Private aviation company, Jetex, is aiming to achieve net zero by 2050 by fuelling its fleet of jets with sustainable fuels that are produced from renewable waste.

When circling back to Taylor Swift’s impact on the climate, she highlights just one of many who are unnecessarily harming the environment through excessive jet travel. Due to Taylor’s status, her private jet has brought welcome attention to the implications of those flights. 

Ultimately, the challenges must be taken on board by those in the sector, and alternatives encouraged to help mitigate the devastating effects of private jets.


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