A spokesperson for Taylor Swift has denied that the US pop star is responsible for “most or all” of the trips taken on her private jet after she was alleged to be the highest-use celebrity by sustainability marketing firm Yard, calling the claim “blatantly incorrect”.
Yard’s survey found that Swift’s plane has taken 170 flights between 1 January and 29 July 2022, clocking up 15.9 days in the air with an average flight time of 80 minutes and 139.36 miles per flight. The total flight emissions for 2022 were calculated at 8,293.54 tonnes – 1,184.8 times more than the average person’s total annual emissions.
“Taylor’s jet is loaned out regularly to other individuals,” the spokesperson told the Guardian, declining further comment.
Yard compiled data from the Celebrity Jets Twitter accountwhich automatically tracks certain aircraft, to highlight “the damaging impact of private jet usage” after fans called out celebrities such as Drake, Travis Scott and Kylie Jenner for taking strikingly short flights at a time of profound climate crisis.
In July, Jenner, who is in a relationship with Scott, posted a photo of their respective jets to Instagram with the caption: “you wanna take mine or yours?” The Celebrity Jets Twitter account found that Jenner’s flight later that day lasted just 17 minutes.
Drake attempted to defend his use of a vast private plane – a $185m Boeing 767 that typically seats hundreds of people, modified to his tastes – for a series of sub-20-minute flights by saying that the aircraft was being moved to a storage location and had no passengers on board. One fan responded: “OK but that’s worse, you don’t see how that’s worse?”
While Scott clocked in at No 10 in Yard’s survey, neither Drake nor Jenner featured in the 10 worst offenders list. Swift was closely followed by boxer Floyd Mayweather, with emissions of 7,076.8 tons of CO2, and Jay-Z, with 6,981.3 tons.
Former baseball player Alex Rodriguez ranked at No 4, country singer Blake Shelton at No 5, director Steven Spielberg at No 6, Kim Kardashian at No 7, Mark Wahlberg at No 8, Oprah Winfrey at No 9 and Scott at No 10.
Private jets emit more than 33m tonnes of greenhouse gases each year – more than the country of Denmark. Their slight passenger loads mean that they are five to 14 times more polluting than commercial planes per passenger, and 50 times more polluting than trains. Just 1% of the global population is responsible for half of the emissions associated with flying.
The CelebJets Twitter and Instagram accounts are run by Jack Sweeney, a student coder at the University of Central Florida who has previously tracked the movements of Russian oligarchs and tech mogul Elon Musk, who reportedly offered him $5,000 to stop tracking his movements. “The amount of time and dedication I have put into it is cool,” Sweeney told Bloomberg. “$5k isn’t enough to drop it.”
Yard digital sustainability director Chris Butterworth said: “It’s easy to get lost in the dazzling lives of the rich and famous, but, unfortunately, they’re a massive part of the CO2e problem we have with the aviation industry. Aviation is responsible for 2.4% of human-produced CO2e every year, and research shows a vast divide between the super-rich and the rest of us regarding flights, travel, and even general emissions.”
Yard stated that its research was “not conclusive to the biggest offenders, but the biggest offenders according to the data as presented on the Celebrity Jets Twitter page” and said it was not clear whether the planes’ respective owners were on each flight.