Why Celebrity Private Jet Travel Is a Climate Nightmare


Music megastars Taylor Swift and Jay-Z are no strangers to being at the top of the rankings. But recently two Grammy-winning artists found themselves prominently on a new list: “Celebrities with the Worst Private Jet Co2 Emissions,

flight data analysisWhich was published online Friday by a UK-based sustainability marketing agency, came on the heels of other big-name celebrities such as Kylie Jenner and Drake when it was revealed that their emissions-spewing private jets had The journeys took as short trips as 17 minutes and 14 minutes respectively.

a. use data from popular twitter accounts The marketing agency, which tracks the flights of jets owned by famous people, found that so far this year, planes owned by celebrities emitted an average of more than 3,376 metric tons of CO2 — more than an average person’s annual emissions. About 480 times more. According to the analysis, Swift’s jet was identified as “the biggest celebrity CO2e polluter ever this year”, racking up 170 flights since January, with total emissions exceeding 8,293 metric tons, compared to its peers. – was not reviewed. A plane owned by boxer Floyd Mayweather came in second, emitting about 7,076 metric tons of CO2, with a log trip lasting only 10 minutes. Jay-Z’s jet was in third place with 136 flights with about 6,981 metric tons of emissions.

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In a statement to The Washington Post, a spokesperson for Swift said, “Taylor’s jets are regularly loaned out to other individuals. It is grossly unfair to attribute most or all of these trips to her.” Representatives for Mayweather and Jay-Z did not respond to requests for comment.

While the analysis notes that its listing is “not conclusive” and that “there is no way to determine whether these celebrities were on all recorded flights,” the authors stress that the report was intended to “determine the harmful effects of private jets”. To highlight is “use” – a reality that is important to frequent fliers and the public, according to many experts not involved in studying flight data. Many others too often rely on private jets, Including politicians, government officials, athletes, business executives and wealthy individuals.

“A short jump with a private jet is to toss a 10 to 20 ton jet into the air and then take it from point A to point B,” he said. Peter DiCarlo, an associate professor of environmental health and engineering at Johns Hopkins University who studies atmospheric air pollution. “I know no one likes to be stuck in traffic, but you’re not launching your car into the air. … The act of taking a big piece of metal and placing it in the sky is going to create a huge carbon footprint. Which isn’t really necessary, especially for short distances like this.”

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

“There are valid statements that grounding private jets probably won’t do what we need to go in the right direction with respect to climate change, but that’s really bad optics,” DeCarlo said. If people look to celebrities as role models, “they want to emulate that behavior. Then, a private jet becomes a status symbol and something that people aspire to, and in terms of climate, we have to. It’s not needed.”

What are the environmental costs of taking a private jet?

a Report published last year by Transport and Environment, a leading European clean transport campaign group, found that a private jet can emit 2 metric tons of CO2 in just one hour. To put that in context, the average person in the EU emits about 8.2 tonnes during the entire year, according to the report.

But while these jets are often widely panned for their environmental impact, it’s important to think about their emissions relative to other forms of transportation. Chris FieldDirector of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University.

Field said that compared to fuel-efficient commercial aircraft and climate-friendly cars, such as hybrid or electric vehicles, emissions per passenger mile are significantly higher for private jets, which typically carry few passengers and have shorter ranges. Let’s travel, Field said. But, he said, the fuel economy of a private jet with a fair number of passengers can be compared to a single person driving a Ford F-150 pickup truck.

“There is a certain level of environmental irresponsibility in a person driving an F-150, and of course, you can say the same thing about business jet travel,” he said.

Environmental concerns about private jets primarily stem from the following: how common have they become and how they are being used, for example, to make short trips or fly empty planes to more convenient airstrips, said Colin MurphyDeputy director of the Policy Institute for Energy, Environment and Economy at the University of California at Davis. Not only are private jet users traveling a lot, “but they are generally doing it in a less efficient way, as if they were sitting in a coach seat on a 777 or on a traditional commercial airliner.”

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A quick trip in a private jet entails “the least efficient parts of the aircraft’s duty cycle,” Murphy said, noting that a massive amount of fuel is burned during takeoff and getting the aircraft at altitude. . “You’ve got all the emissions from taxi, from engines heating up and from takeoff and climb and not as much from cruise where you’re actually traveling the distance.”

In response to criticism over flights lasting less than 20 minutes, rapper Drake commented on instagramWriting, “It’s just the planes that are being taken to any airport to be stored for anyone interested in logistics… nobody takes that flight.”

But carrying passenger-less planes around is another “really problematic use” of private jets, Murphy said.

“What you’re doing is you’re burning several hundreds or thousands of gallons of jet fuel to save a couple of hours or a couple of carloads of people,” he said. “Is this really the trade-off that we want to say is acceptable in a world where climate change is no longer a crisis of the future, but a crisis now?”

How do private jets compare to commercial flights?

According to experts, smaller aircraft generally have higher fuel mileage than larger aircraft. “The fully loaded 737 has the same emissions per passenger mile as an efficient car like the Prius,” Murphy said.

While larger commercial aircraft require more fuel, they often carry many more people and all passengers on the flight share the total fuel consumption of the trip, DeCarlo said. But keep in mind, Field said, that sitting in first or business class can often result in a higher carbon footprint than an economy seat.

However, one of the main advantages of private flying is convenience.

“We live in a society where, among the very wealthy, convenience trumps everything else, and we would all benefit from an emphasis on convenience,” Fields said.

Should private jets be banned?

Experts say getting rid of private jets is not the solution to our climate problem. Although the per capita emissions of private travel are large, they are not as significant as those produced by the larger commercial aviation industry, DeCarlo said.

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

Instead of banning private jets, experts said it may be more effective to explore rules or policies designed to reduce the amount of unnecessary travel.

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Field said, “You can imagine the policy levers that force it to be deferred, you can imagine the economic levers that would make it so expensive that it’s not worth it or there are any regulatory things that make it Makes so much trouble.” “I’m in favor of doing whatever is effective at reducing wasteful travel without actually eliminating that trip that really makes a difference.”

There’s probably no use “showcasing business jets,” Fields said. Instead, he said, people should take responsibility for their actions and take into account the environmental footprint of what they do in making their decisions.

How can private flights be more sustainable?

While electric aircraft prototypes are still being developed, private and commercial aviation should take advantage of higher-quality carbon offsets and more sustainable jet fuel options made from biomass, algae or plants, Field said. Currently, most of these fuels are generally superior to petroleum, but “they are not zero emissions,” Murphy said.

Beyond cutting trips, private jet users should consider changing how they fly, Field said. He said longer flights carrying more passengers could help overall efficiency, and flying direct instead of stopping for a connection could make a difference.

Although finding a long-term sustainable solution for private and commercial air travel is just one piece of the puzzle, experts encourage fliers to play their part.

“It’s going to be really hard to imagine a world in which we don’t succeed in limiting large-scale climate change to a degree much higher than the historical average, when people are still flying in private jets fueled by petroleum. at the rate they are now,” Murphy said.

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