First it was Kylie Jenner, then it was Drake, and now it’s Taylor Swift in the hot seat for her reported private jet usage and carbon emissions. For weeks now, the phrase “climate criminal” has been flying around with approximately the same frequency as the celebrities it’s being applied to. Public scrutiny of celebrity flight data has fueled endless memes and tweets — and lately they center on Swift.
The 11-time Grammy winner took center stage after a new analysis by the digital marketing agency Yard named her as the “biggest celebrity CO2e polluter” of 2022 so far. The study used data from the CelebJets Twitter account to determine which stars’ carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions were the worst — with the caveat that the list is “not conclusive.” Yard reported that Swift’s jet had flown 170 times since the start of the year, totaling 22,923 minutes in the air and generating 8,293.54 tonnes of CO2 emissions. Swift’s rep, however, denied that the singer was responsible for the entire number. “Taylor’s jet is loaned out regularly to other individuals,” the spokesperson said in a statement to Rolling Stone. “To attribute most or all of these trips to her is blatantly incorrect.”
Whatever her individual responsibility, the CO2e total for the singer’s jet in the first seven months of 2022 is staggering — it’s 1,184.8 times greater than the average person’s over the course of an entire year, as Yard noted. And it was certainly enough for memes of Swift flying anywhere and everywhere to take off.
It turned out basically any footage or photos involving planes or flying could be made into a meme about Swift’s carbon footprint.
People also joked about what Swift’s transportation habits could look like in the wake of her private jet controversy, suggesting transportation alternatives ranging from cars to a magic carpet.
The hullaballoo also made people reexamine some of the singer-songwriter’s lyrics. Lines like “criticize the way you fly” and “I ran off the plane” suddenly got a whole new meaning.
Regardless of Swift’s exact CO2 output, some fans were more concerned about another way she might be contributing to climate change: “her hotness.”
While humor was a huge part of the Twitter conversation surrounding Swift and other celebrities’ private jet usage, such trips do have a serious impact. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency describes greenhouse gas emissions as “the most significant driver of observed climate change since the mid-20th century.” Carbon dioxide, in particular, makes up the bulk of the United States’ emissions, with transportation generating a huge amount of it.
“Private jets have a disproportionate impact on the environment,” Yard noted. “Private jets are the worst offenders for emissions per passenger. It’s a particularly popular form of travel among celebrities, who often opt for incredibly short-haul flights instead of choosing a more environmentally friendly alternative.”
It remains to be seen whether or not public backlash will change celebrities’ flying habits, but in the meantime, Twitter is keeping the conversation interesting.