Why superstar non-public jet journey is a local weather nightmare

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Music superstars Taylor Swift and Jay-Z are no stranger to topping the charts. But recently, two Grammy Award-winning artists found themselves featured on the new list:Celebrities with the worst private jet emissions of Co2 jets. “

The flight data analysispublished online Friday by a UK-based sustainability marketing agency, has followed in the footsteps of other big-name celebrities like Kylie Jenner and Drake in the face of intense public criticism following when it was revealed that private jets that let out their emissions recorded short trips. 17 minutes and 14 minutes respectively.

Using data from a Popular Twitter accounts Tracking the flights of jets owned by celebrities, the marketing agency found that so far this year, planes owned by celebrities have emitted an average of more than 3,376 tons of CO2 – about 480 times more than the average person’s annual emissions. Swift’s jet, identified as “the most famous CO2e polluting aircraft this year so far”, has flown 170 flights since January with total emissions of more than 8,293 tonnes, according to analysis without peer review. A plane owned by boxer Floyd Mayweather came in second, emitting around 7,076 tonnes of CO2, with a recorded ride lasting just 10 minutes. Jay-Z’s jets came in third with 136 flights totaling about 6,981 tonnes of emissions.

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In a statement to The Washington Post, a spokesperson for Swift said, “Taylor’s jet is regularly lent to other individuals. Attributing most or all of these trips to her is blatantly inaccurate.” Representatives for Mayweather and Jay-Z did not respond to requests for comment.

While the analysis notes that its list is “inconclusive” and that there is no way to determine if these celebrities were on all of the flights recorded,” the authors stressed. emphasized that the purpose of the report was to “highlight the harmful effects of private jet use” – a fact extremely important for frequent flyers and the public to recognize, according to several experts. participants did not participate in the flight data study. Many others also often rely on private jets, including politicians, government officials, athletes, business executives and wealthy individuals.

“A short hop with a private jet requires taking a jet that weighs 10 to 20 tons into the air and then moving it from point A to point B,” says Peter DeCarlo, an associate professor of environmental health and engineering at Johns Hopkins University who studies atmospheric air pollution. “I know no one likes being stuck in traffic, but you don’t drive your car into the sky. … The act of taking a giant piece of metal and sending it to the sky creates a huge amount of carbon emissions that is really unnecessary, especially for short distances like this.”

And while DeCarlo and other experts concede that a comprehensive ban on private jet travel, which can meet essential transportation needs in certain situations, is not the solution. , they encourage people – especially celebrities with significant social influence – to consider the environmental impact of their choices and the messages they can send.

“There are authentic claims that grounding private jets probably won’t do what we need to stay on track with regard to climate change, but that’s just the system,” DeCarlo said. The optics are really bad. If people see celebrities as role models, “they want to imitate that behavior. Then a private jet becomes a status symbol and something people aspire to, and that’s not what we need right now in the context of the climate.”

What is the environmental cost of flying a private jet?

One report published last year by Transport & Environment, a large European clean transport campaign group, has found that a single private jet can emit 2 tons of CO2 in just one hour. Against that backdrop, the average person in the EU emits around 8.2 tonnes of emissions over the course of a year, according to the report.

However, while these jets are often widely assessed for their environmental impact, it is important to think about their emissions compared to other forms of transport, Chris Fielddirector of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University.

Compared to fuel-efficient commercial aircraft and climate-friendly cars, such as hybrids or electric vehicles, emissions per passenger mile are substantially higher for private jets, typically carry fewer passengers and travel shorter distances, Field said. However, he notes, the fuel economy of a private jet with a reasonable number of passengers can be comparable to that of a Ford F-150 pilot.

He added: “There is a certain degree of environmental irresponsibility in an F-150 pilot, and certainly, you can say the same about commercial air travel.

Environmental concerns about private jets largely stem from How popular did they become? and how they are used, such as making short trips or flying empty planes to more convenient runways, says Colin Murphy, deputy director of the Institute for Energy, Environmental and Economic Policy at the University of California at Davis. Not only do private jet users travel a lot, but “they are doing it in a way that is generally less efficient than if they were in the coach seat on a 777 or any other commercial airliner.” any ordinary trade”.

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A quick ride on a private jet highlights “the least efficient parts of the aircraft’s duty cycle,” Murphy said, noting that a large amount of fuel is burned during take-off. and raise the plane to altitude. “You’re getting all the emissions from driving a taxi, starting the engine and taking off and climbing and not so much from the journey where you actually cover the distance.”

In response to criticism of the flight lasting less than 20 minutes, rapper Drake commented on Instagramwrites, “This is just them transferring planes to whatever airport they’re being stored at for anyone who cares about the logistics…nobody takes that flight.”

But moving low-passenger planes around is a “really problematic use of private jets,” Murphy said.

“What you’re doing is you’re burning hundreds or thousands of gallons of jet fuel to save an amount of people or a few people in a matter of hours,” he said. “Is that really the trade-off we mean tolerable in a world where climate change is no longer a future crisis, but a present crisis?”

How do private jets compare to commercial flights?

In general, smaller planes have worse fuel economy than larger planes, according to experts. “A fully loaded 737 can have the same emissions per passenger mile as an efficient vehicle like the Prius,” says Murphy.

While larger commercial planes require more fuel, they typically carry more people and all passengers on board share in the overall fuel consumption of the trip, DeCarlo said. But be aware, Field says that sitting in first or business class can often come with a higher carbon footprint than an economy class seat.

However, a major benefit of private flying is convenience.

“We live in a society where, among the very wealthy, convenience outweighs everything else, and we would all benefit from emphasizing convenience in life,” says Field. opinion.”

Should private jets be banned?

Experts say phasing out private jets is not the answer to our climate disasters. While the per capita emissions of individual travel are large, they are still not as significant as those generated by the much larger commercial airline industry, DeCarlo said.

Furthermore, there are situations where this type of air travel is necessary, such as during a medical emergency or transporting organs, Field said. “Sometimes it’s really important to get the right team to the right place at the right time, and that’s what business jets can do.”

Instead of banning private jets, experts say it could be more effective to explore regulations or policies geared towards reducing unnecessary travel.

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“You can imagine the policy levers that force it to be avoided, you can imagine the economic levers that make it unnecessarily expensive, or the regulatory stuff that makes it so complicated.” he said. “I’m in favor of anything that works to cut down on really frivolous travel without eliminating the travel that really makes a difference.”

Field says it may not be beneficial to “destroy business jets”. Instead, he said, people should take responsibility for their actions and assess the environmental impact of what they do in their decision-making process.

How can private flights be more sustainable?

While electric aircraft prototypes are still being developed, private and commercial aviation should effectively leverage high-quality carbon offsets and more sustainable jet fuel alternatives made from biomass. , algae or plants, says Field. Currently, most of these fuels are generally better than petroleum, but Murphy notes, “they are not zero-emissions.”

In addition to cutting back on trips, private jet users should also consider changing the way they fly, Field said. Longer flights carrying more passengers can help improve overall efficiency, and flying nonstop instead of connecting stops can make a difference, he said.

While finding a sustainable long-term solution to commercial and private air travel is only one piece of the puzzle, experts have encouraged passengers to do their part.

“It would be really hard to imagine a world where we have largely succeeded in limiting climate change to not so much more than the historical average, when people are still flying around on airplanes. private jet runs on oil at the speed it is now,” Murphy said.

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