It's sexy, it's fast, and it's a whole lot more glamorous than riding coach. Private jets are the top choice for celebrities to fly these days—but is it always the best one to make?
Before the advent of private jets, the most glamorous flying experience was in first class. There are spacious seats, a welcome drink, and plenty of food during long-haul flights. But these days, those who can afford it are opting for a much more indulgent experience: private jets. They're everywhere on Instagram and have become a coveted way to get around to both domestic and international destinations. But it comes at a price—and we're not just talking about its financial cost.
Air travel has been deemed as one of the least environmentally friendly ways to get around. Much worse than cars, airplanes emit a jaw-dropping amount of carbon up in the air. For example, a flight from Manila to Singapore will generate about 353 kg of CO2. Flights to countries much further will obviously produce even more.
What's worse than the amount of CO2 produced is where the CO2 is released. Since planes fly high up in the air, emissions stay in the atmosphere and have a more potent climate impact due to chemical reactions and atmospheric effects. Planes don't just emit CO2 either; other aviation emissions include nitrogen oxides, particulates, contrails, and cirrus changes adding to the environmental detriment.
Of course, these aren't things that laypeople—or even celebrities—often keep in mind. Low airline prices and an "Instagram-worthy" lifestyle will cloud anyone's judgement.
But recently, beauty mogul and social media personality, Kylie Jenner, came under fire for a photo she posted on Instagram. In it, she can be seen at the airport, in an embrace with Travis Scott. Beyond them are two private jets, presumably ready for take-off. The beauty mogul captioned the photo, "you wanna take yours or mine", in reference to the two planes. Environmentally conscious followers pointed out how owning (and taking) two private jets would lead to an incredibly massive carbon footprint.
A few weeks after that, Taylor Swift made headlines when it was revealed that her private jet flew 170 times in the first 200 days of the year, emitting more than 8,000 tonnes of CO2. This came from a list created by Yard, a marketing agency that published a list of "Celebs with the Worst Private Jet Co2 Emissions". Swift was effectively "the worst celebrity" on the list, as it was revealed that her jet had emitted the most CO2 within such a short timeframe. Her representative eventually came out to defend her, saying that Swift wasn't even on most of the flights and that it had been loaned out to others. Nevertheless, the plane is registered in her name, and fans have quickly pointed out that her representative's response made it look like she was refraining from taking accountability.
Other celebrities on the list included Floyd Mayweather with 7,076.8 tonnes of CO2 from flights and Jay-Z with a little over 6,900 tonnes. Mayweather's shortest flight was just 10 minutes but had already emitted 1 ton of CO2.
Though Kylie Jenner didn't make the list, her sister, Kim Kardashian, did, landing a spot at number seven with 4,268.5 tonnes of CO2 over 57 flights. Kardashian had apparently taken a 23-minute flight from San Diego to Camarillo, both of which are locales in California.
Now, two new terms seems to be emerging from all this: carbon shaming and flight shaming. People are now calling celebrities out online for the devastating effects that their private jets are contributing to. Ordinary people who have made the lifestyle choice to cycle or take public transportation are turning their eyes to those who seem willing to take private jets anywhere they go.
And those who have been "carbon shamed" aren't simply showy Instagram influencers either; climate advocates such as Bill Gates and Prince Harry (who have spoken out about their concern for climate change) are also being called out for the apparent hypocrisy of taking multiple journeys on private jets they own.
Needless to say, the era of globalisation has heightened our need to travel across the globe. Though it would be close to impossible to completely stop taking flights, can celebrities and personalities manage to compromise their habits for the environment? Only time will tell—but perhaps it's fair to say that perhaps carbon shaming is not the only way to make the affluent reconsider their choices.