Taylor Swift’s relationship with Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce has become the talk of the town, with their love story taking flight—quite literally. The pop sensation’s jet-setting lifestyle to support her beau’s games, especially after the Chiefs’ recent AFC Championship win, has ignited social media scrutiny over the carbon footprint left by her frequent use of private jets.
Swift’s upcoming journey from Tokyo to Las Vegas for the Super Bowl is set to cover over 19,400 miles in just under two weeks, releasing an estimated 200,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. Private jet trips are known to be the most carbon-intensive mode of travel, generating nine times more carbon per passenger than commercial flights, as highlighted in a 2023 paper from University College London.
While some environmentalists, including Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion, advocate for an outright ban on private jets, others propose solutions like carbon offsets. Swift’s publicist claims she buys carbon offsets, but the effectiveness of such measures is debatable given the variation in offset quality.
On the legislative front, there’s a proposal—the FATCAT Act—to tax private jet fuel, with the aim of raising the tax from $0.22 to $1.95 per gallon. The additional funds would be directed towards expanding railroads, improving public transit, and monitoring air quality near airports. However, the bill introduced by Sen. Edward J. Markey and Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez in July 2023 has yet to advance.
Taxing Sales, Closing Loopholes, and Alternatives
A different approach, seen in countries like Canada in the past, involves taxing the sale of private jets. Swift‘s Dassault Falcon 900 and Falcon 7X, estimated at $25 million and $24 million, respectively, could potentially net $4.9 million if subjected to a 10% tax. Closing business tax loopholes is another suggestion—denying deductions for private jet travel as a business expense.
Despite potential financial implications, such measures are crucial to address the environmental impact of private jet travel. The current annual cost of operating Swift’s Falcon 900 is around $4.9 million, a sum often deducted as a business expense.
Celebrity Carbon Footprint and Societal Responsibility
Swift’s carbon footprint has labeled her the ‘biggest celebrity CO2 polluter’ for 2023, emitting a staggering 138 tons of CO2 in the past three months alone. As the public debates her responsibility, it raises broader questions about and the need for influencers to align their actions with their advocacy.
While Swift advocates for environmental causes and climate change awareness, her significant carbon footprint demands a reevaluation of how celebrities, especially those with a global platform, balance their personal choices with the urgent need for sustainability.