If you haven’t heard about the backlash towards Taylor Swift’s environmental impact then you must have been living under a rock (or maybe an expensive private jet).
In a revelation by the marketing and analytics agency Yard on the 29th July, the impacts of celebrity aeroplane usage on the environment was heavily critiqued on social media, with certified pop princess Taylor Swift being officially crowned the highest polluter. And she may not be able to just “Shake It Off”.
Emassing a total of 170 flights taken by the country-turned-popstar since January alone, Taylor’s private jet has expelled 8,293.54 tonnes of carbon emissions, according to Yard’s findings.
Dividing the social media sphere, Vision looks into the climate impacts of Taylor Swift’s 22,923 minutes of flight time and discusses the true consequences of celebrity actions upon the climate crisis.
Following the backlash, Taylor’s spokesperson told Buzzfeed News that “to attribute most or all of these trips to her is blatantly incorrect” as Swift regularly loans her private jet to friends and family.
This in itself is an interesting argument: the idea of loaning private jets to family as an excuse for the climate impact. If we want to play devil’s advocate for Taylor, one family who frequently utilise, and share, private jet usage is the Kardashian-Jenner Clan.
Kylie Jenner often loans her eponymous KylieAir jets to friends and family, and sister Kim Kardashian has racked up 4268.5 tonnes of carbon emissions over 57 flights according to Yard. To compare to Kim Kardashian, not to reinstate that drama again, the reality star has actually produced more carbon emissions per flight that Miss Swift, with Kim’s 74.88 tonnes on average exceeding Taylor’s 48.78.
It’s also important to look at the flight times for these celeb jet setters. Amongst the skyrocketing climate numbers, it was Kylie Jenner’s minuscule flight lengths that received the initial internet explosion. With a recent flight of just 17 minutes – only a 40 minutes drive- and others documented at just 3-8 minutes, it’s Jenner’s clear disregard for the impact of her short stopovers that appears more inconsiderate.
But back to Taylor. Is she really to blame for carbon emissions when the singer herself isn’t in the plane? I’m inclined to say yes: if you give someone your car and they crash it, you’re responsible for the damages.
Taylor Swift has not toured since before the COVID-19 pandemic, so this provides no reasonable excuse. Whilst other artists are touring the world following the relaxation of lockdown rules internationally, Swift has not made a prominent ‘work’ appearance to explain her CO2 emissions, with her last tour occurring from May to November 2018.
It must be said, I (Katie) am a huge Taylor Swift fan, so when the statistics of her impact on the environment were released I was majorly torn. How could my idol and favourite celebrity have such a negative impact on the already worsening climate crisis, especially when her more recent ventures have depicted her as an advocate and ally?
Alternately, while I (Kaitlyn) enjoy Taylor’s array of catching tunes and songwriting prowess, I was less surprised by the revelation that a popstar has such a negative impact. Not because I consider Taylor to be a bad person, but because an industry that prioritises or necessitates private jet usage as a mode of transportation is bound to produce celebrities who don’t notice, or care, about their carbon emissions.
Of course the most important voice here is the fans themselves, Taylor’s global network of Swifties.
In response to this revelation, some Swifties argued that blaming Taylor the individual is a distraction from the bigger, badder contributors – corporations. While this is a fair point, it doesn’t allow celebrities to neglect their personal responsibility to the planet and the impressionable positions they hold. And it certainly doesn’t mean they can promote one message of sustainability publicly, whilst privately jet setting as much as they desire.
York’s nationally awarded SwiftSoc had this to say about the debacle:
“SwiftSoc recognises the importance of holding celebrities accountable for their actions. While we are all huge fans of Taylor, we find ourselves disappointed with the news that have come to light, if they are indeed true.”
“Even though it is impossible to fully understand the context of the situation, we hope that something is done to significantly reduce these emissions and Taylor and her team are willing to speak out about the climate crisis, as it is an issue so so important to all of us.”
Ultimately, it’s good to remember that everyone is trying their best to live and experience life in a sustainable way, so we won’t write Taylor off just yet, who does put other efforts in place for the planet’s future.
However, we think the public will be keeping a much closer watch on celebrity and billionaire private jet usage from now on. As not every private jet usage is listed publicly yet, it’s likely Swift’s isn’t the worst, or the last, culprit.
But maybe Taylor Swift shouldn’t be renaming her classic album from ‘Red’ to ‘Green’ anytime soon.