Culture / People

Are celebrities climate criminals? The internet thinks yes

private jet climate change

In a world faced with climate change, increasingly ferocious bushfires and devastating flooding, it appears celebrities still believe a private jet to be the best mode of transport to take, even for journeys that would be less than an hour in a car. Circling into the zeitgeist over the last few weeks, private jet flights are a major contributor of Co2 emissions, with many of us economy class-flying folk left wondering, what are all the paper straws for if Drake is jetting around the South of France like cities aren’t literally on fire meagre miles away?

The furore seems to have stemmed from a supremely tone-deaf post from Kylie Jenner wherein she and Travis Scott are embracing in front of two private jets, the image captioned “Wanna take mine or yours?” While already a grotesquely privileged display of her immense wealth, Twitter account Celebrity Jets revealed Jenner regularly takes flights that are only 15 minutes long, using 442 litres of fuel and emit one tonne of carbon dioxide.

TikTok user Eryn posted a now-viral video breaking down Celebrity Jets’ data, concluding based off of figures provided between July 11-18 2022, 15 celebrities used a private jet across 48 flights, an average of 3.2 flights per week. During this period, Kim Kardashian took three flights on a private jet, producing 23 tonnes of Co2 emissions – with the average American individual giving off 16 tonnes of Co2 emissions per year.

@eryn810 Private jets global harm #privatejets #climatechange #kimkardashian #kyliejenner #drake #airplanes ♬ original sound - Eryn

While they may be a staple of the Jet Set, private planes pollute up to 10 times more than a commercial aircraft and 50 times more than trains. Emissions have increased by more than 30 per cent in Europe over the last 15 years, with the emissions of a four-hour jet trip the equivalent to the total emissions generated by the average person across an entire year.

Private jets have been in use for decades now, their operation not surprising. It’s not just celebrities who employ them either, government dignitaries frequent users of the transport – Air Force One a notable symbol of private jets in diplomatic hands.

However, what makes their use befuddling is the climate change catastrophe gripping the world that appears to be overlooked by those using a private jet. Many have been quick to point out the average person has changed their daily habits in an effort to improve the planet, from shunning plastic straws to recycling to even changing dietary consumption to lessen their Co2 emissions. It almost feels as if the efforts of the many are counteracted by the privilege of the few to fly from suburb to suburb above the ground rather than driving or taking a train.

What Eryn also noted in her video is a number of those included on her list have previously used their platform to advocate or sustainability and more environmentally-friendly practices. This included Oprah who has supported a variety of environmental causes, Drake, who in 2021 partnered with a climate-conscious firm to achieve more sustainable travel, alongside Kardashian who has released an eco-friendly skincare range. So where does this leave us in the climate fight? It would be remiss of Jenner and co not to listen to the collective outrage at their actions and to reflect and make real change in how they commute. Whether or not there is tangible change, nothing at all or simply more greenwashing is yet to be determined. We can also continue to speak up, use our platforms and bring attention to these issues in the hopes of protecting the one Earth we have.

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