Social media is urging celebrities to get off their private jets

Their flights are scrutinized on social networks: from Taylor Swift to Bernard Arnault, the pressure is growing on celebrities, politicians and big bosses to limit their travel by private jet with a high carbon footprint.

After posting a photo of her plane and her partner on Instagram in mid-July, reality TV star Kylie Jenner was called a “climate criminal” by Internet users.

“Polluter and criminal,” tweeted another about director Steven Spielberg, who was accused of riding the 28-minute flight.

Taylor Swift is called the ‘most polluting celebrity of the year’

Countless “memes”, funny photos or videos, have also spread to make fun of the singer Taylor Swift after the publication on Friday of an analysis by the marketing agency Yard, which ranked him as the “most polluting celebrity of the year”, with 170 flights since the beginning of the year. The Yard relies on data from the “Celebrity Jets” Twitter account, which tracks celebrities’ flights through public online data.

This account was started by a 19-year-old college student named Jack Sweeney. He started in June 2020 by following Elon Musk’s private jet and now has 30 accounts following sports stars, Meta boss Mark Zuckerberg and even Russian oligarchs.

He encouraged other Internet users like Sébastien*, a 35-year-old aeronautical engineer who created the “I Fly Bernard” account in April on the routes of the planes of French billionaires to ask them about their carbon footprint. “What I’m trying to criticize is their use of private jets as taxis,” he explained to AFP, pointing to the many domestic or European flights made by the airlines.

– 5 to 14 times more polluting than conventional flying –

“In Europe, three-quarters of these flights can be made by train,” criticized William Todts, executive director of Transport & Environment, which brings together European NGOs in the sector.

The aviation sector is responsible for 2 to 3% of global CO2 emissions, but according to a Transport & Environment report published in May, private flights have a carbon footprint per passenger 5 to 14 times greater than in commercial flights and 50 times larger than the train. ..

Private aviation has also grown since the pandemic, its customers seeking to avoid flight cancellations and inefficiencies in the face of the virus.

The good excuses of the stars

Faced with pressure from social networks, some stars have reacted and all have good excuses: last week, a spokesperson for Taylor Swift admitted to the press that she “always lends her other people’s jets”. “To assign most or all of these rides to him is completely incorrect,” he continued.

Rapper Drake, who was chosen for a 14-minute flight from Toronto to Hamilton, responded on Instagram that the plane was moved to park it elsewhere, “no one was on that flight”, as he. “It’s worse if he flies empty,” choked Béatrice Jarrige, project manager of the Shift Project association.

Emissions are offset by reforestation projects

In France, a spokesman for the Bouygues group assured that the plane followed by “I Fly Bernard” was presented as belonging to Martin Bouygues and “used by many employees”. He pointed out that the airline’s CO2 emissions are offset by reforestation projects, a solution that has been criticized for not reducing emissions. Bernard Arnault, Jean-Charles Decaux and Vincent Bolloré, also targeted by the Twitter account, refused to comment.

Béatrice Jarrige hopes that this social media movement will turn into political action. “It is not a question of completely banning the trips, but the richest must try to be stable,” he determined, pleading for investments in the railways.

For Mr. Todts, jet owners should at least require that they run on biofuels rather than kerosene, because that will push aircraft manufacturers to develop these technologies.

As of September 2021, the business aviation sector considers these sustainable fuels to be “key” to achieving the goal of carbon neutrality it has set for 2050.

*First name has been changed because the person wishes to remain anonymous.

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