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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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OPINION: Carbon credits used by celebrities to reduce CO2 footprint

Celebrities produce more carbon emissions than the public are aware of
Claire Geriak
Celebrities have been increasingly receiving pushback for their usage of private jets and increased carbon emissions. Illustration created on Canva.

Celebrities’ private jet use spotlights a gap between environmental advocacy and action as climate concerns mount. Carbon emissions are released into the atmosphere, particularly carbon dioxide. CO2 is a primary suspect of climate change and global warming. These emissions result from burning fossil fuels like oil, coal and natural gas for energy and power. 

As CO2 builds up in the atmosphere, the carbon dioxide traps heat from the sun, preventing it from escaping into space. The greenhouse effect leads to a rise in Earth’s temperature, manifesting in various environmental impacts. 

In recent months, the media has brought awareness to the lifestyle choices made by celebrities –  specifically their frequent use of private jets. Celebrities attempt to use their platforms for activism, encouraging their fans to make lifestyle changes. Some celebrities, however, fall short of their request. 

This stems from the statistic provided by CNBC that private jets “are up to 14 times more polluting than commercial planes per passenger, and up to 50 times more polluting than trains” and emit far more CO2 per passenger than commercial flights and other forms of transportation. 

“Carbon footprint” is a term that refers to the total amount of CO2 and other environmentally toxic gasses emitted by people or groups. Emissions are measured in tons of CO2 and can be emitted from many sources, including energy use in transportation, homes, and the production and consumption of goods. Air travel is one of the most significant emissions producers.

Carbon emissions from private aviation display the need for more eco-friendly air travel, including fuel-efficient aircrafts and sustainable aviation fuels. Changes like these are essential for lowering the aviation industry’s carbon footprint and minimizing its impact on our atmosphere.

Celebrities’ impact on the environment due to private jet usage has become a focal point of conversation, with several A-lister cases bringing massive attention and sparking an angry public response.

Taylor Swift is one of the names that is frequently used. CelebJets, a now-suspended Twitter/X account, has tracked and displayed the gross overuse of private air travel. Jack Sweeney, the 21-year-old behind the account, is now involved in a legal battle with Swift. The account stated that her private jet use  “amounted to an estimated 8,300 tonnes of carbon emissions in 2022 – about 1,800 times the average human’s annual emissions, or 576 times that of the average American.” 

Director Steven Speilberg also frequently flies private. It has been reported by Newsweek that “since June 23, 2022, Spielberg has taken 16 trips, spanning nearly 17,000 miles on his plane, a Gulfstream G650. According to ADS-B Exchange, he has spent at least $116,159 across those flights, with his jet emitting some 179 tons of carbon dioxide over that period.”

The massive social outcry against the impact of private jet usage has stirred up various responses from celebrities, revealing the true nature of their commitments to sustainability and environmental responsibility. 

Some celebrities, however, have taken action, like Taylor Swift, who has chosen to offset her emissions with programs that use Carbon Credits to minimize their carbon footprint. This angle involves a system where companies buy a carbon credit at $40 to $80. Purchasing carbon credits is a way to help balance emissions – a proactive step towards a more environmentally conscious world.

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