Celebrity excess has been the subject of heated discussion lately, with Kylie Jenner drawing attention to the inordinate amount of pollution emitted by the wealthy, after she used her private jet to take a 17-minute flight, then followed it up with an Instagram post flaunting her ability to fly to the grocery store.
Jenner was labeled a “climate criminal,” with Instagram and Twitter users expressing frustration at the public efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle, blown away by the fumes of private jets.
Now, UK-based sustainability marketing firm Yard has assembled a ranked list of the biggest celebrity “climate criminals,” and Taylor Swift tops the list, her plane having taken no less than 170 flights in 2022, with total CO2 emissions clocked in at 8,293 tons, according to Yard’s data.
Swift instantly overtook Jenner as the face of the problem, although many reacted with surprise as much as anger; after all, excess and criminal indulgence are baked into the Kardashian-Jenner brand, while Swift has cultivated a more folksy image. The contrast struck many as amusing, and Swift soon became the subject of mockery.
Twitter users began posting fake Swift Tweets imagining that the singer holds a burning hatred for environmentalism, while others jokingly pointed out Swift’s song lyrics that mentioned planes.
In response to the backlash, Swift’s representation clarified with Rolling Stone that the singer’s jets weren’t always being used by her, stating:
“Taylor’s jet is loaned out regularly to other individuals. To attribute most or all of these trips to her is blatantly incorrect.”
The clarification was hardly surprising – despite her cottage-core persona, fans understand that Swift is just as ruthlessly entrepreneurial as the Kardashian-Jenners.
On the Taylor Swift fan subreddit, r/TaylorSwift, fans expressed disappointment in the singer, noting that Swift’s jets being loaned to others wasn’t the point – it’s that Swift’s jets were allowed to belch out truckloads of carbon into our skies, the singer seemingly making no effort to reduce her carbon emissions.
Some fans had the opposite reaction and simply refused to acknowledge the problem, labeling the list as “misinformation.”
One particularly dedicated fan even posted their own list on Twitter, highlighting Swift’s supposed contributions to environmentalism. Said list included the fact that Swift sold one of her two private jets, and emphasized the singer’s affection for penguins; the thread was quickly deleted after everyone on the internet laughed at it.
Of course, Swift wasn’t the only “climate criminal” on the list; Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Jay-Z were placed 2nd and 3rd, respectively, while Alex Rodriguez, Blake Shelton, Steven Spielberg, Kim Kardashian, Mark Wahlberg, Oprah Winfrey and Travis Scott made up the rest of the polluters (ironically, Kylie Jenner never actually made the list ).
In response to data published on his own wasteful flights, Drake also attempted to set the record straight, by telling fans that his three of his ridiculously short flights didn’t actually have anyone on them, which didn’t exactly diminish the backlash.
The rich and famous don’t seem interested in reducing their emissions, only in making excuses for them; public access to flight data must be a real headache – celebrities surely want to spew their emissions in secret.
But as heat records continue to explode, and the air becomes heavy with smoke, those dinky little paper straws and recycling sorting bins aren’t going to cut it – the public are throwing water balloons on a house fire, while the wealthy toss gasoline.
Celebrities aren’t going to have a sudden change of heart, but they might just be pressured into reducing their obscene waste; after all, approval and validation is one of the few things the public can take away from them.