Social media urges celebrities to get off their private planes

Their travels are being scrutinized on social networks: From Taylor Swift to Bernard Arnault, pressure is mounting on celebrities, political figures and senior presidents to limit their private jet travel with a high carbon footprint.

• Read also: Taylor Swift: The biggest carbon dioxide polluter among celebrities

• Read also: Kylie Jenner criticized for using her private jet for a 12-minute flight

After posting a photo of her plane and that of her boyfriend to Instagram in mid-July, netizens dubbed reality TV star Kylie Jenner a “climate criminal.”

“Contaminated and criminal,” another tweeted about director Steven Spielberg, accused of the 28-minute flight.

Countless ‘memes’, and sponsored images or videos, have also circulated mocking Taylor Swift after publishing on Friday an analysis by marketing agency Yard, which has ranked her the ‘most polluting celebrity of the year’, with 170 flights since the start of the year. .

Yard relied on data from the “Celebrity Jets” Twitter account, which tracks celebrity thefts through public data online.

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 to track sports stars, Meta boss Mark Zuckerberg and even Russian oligarchs.

It has inspired other netizens like Sébastien*, a 35-year-old aeronautical engineer who set up the “I Fly Bernard” account in April on French billionaires’ airplane itineraries to question them about their carbon footprint.

“What I’m trying to denounce is their use of private planes as taxis,” he told AFP, referring to the many domestic or European flights the planes have taken.

“In Europe, three-quarters of these trips can be made by train,” denounced William Todds, Director General of Transport and the Environment, which brings together European NGOs in the sector.

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

Private aviation has also boomed since the pandemic, as its customers want to avoid flight cancellations and mingle in the face of the virus.

Some stars have responded to social media pressure: Last week, a spokesperson for Taylor Swift claimed in the press that she “regularly lends her plane to other people.” Assigning him most or all of these journeys is not entirely correct, he continues.

Rapper Drake, who was picked up on the 14-minute flight from Toronto to Hamilton, replied on Instagram that the plane had been moved to park elsewhere, “Nobody was on that flight,” he said.

“It’s worse if it flies empty,” says Beatrice Garg, project manager for the Shift Project Association.

In France, a spokesman for the Bouygues group confirmed that the aircraft followed by “I fly Bernard” that appears as a Martin Puig belongs to the group and is “used by several employees”. It specifies that the aircraft’s CO2 emissions are offset by reforestation projects, a solution that has been criticized for not reducing emissions significantly.

Bernard Arnault, Jean-Charles Decaux and Vincent Polloré, who were also targeted by the Twitter account, declined to comment.

Greg hopes that this social media movement will turn into a political act. “It’s not a question of banning flights altogether, but the rich should make an effort to be vigilant,” she specifies, calling for investments in rail.

For Mr Todds, aircraft owners should at least require that they operate with biofuels rather than kerosene, as this would prompt aircraft manufacturers to develop these technologies.

In September 2021, the business aviation sector deemed these sustainable fuels “essential” to achieving its 2050 carbon neutrality target.

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

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