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Shake it off, or Take Off? A Criticism of Taylor’s Jet-Set Style

She’s Entering her Private Plane Era

By Amelia Boag McGlynn

Aeroplane in the sky
Photo by Pixabay

In the trepidation-filled era of “Cancel Culture”, it may appear that celebrities have begun to walk on eggshells around the general public, careful to not put a toe out of line, terrified to incur the wrath of frenzied X users.

But what should you do if you’re the biggest star on the planet? What do you do if all of these tweeters are actually your biggest fans? Well, no need to imagine, for Taylor Swift has the answer - emit over 8000 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere, of course!

Taylor Swift at the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards
Image from iHeartRadioCA via Wikimedia Commons

Miss Swift needs no introduction – she IS the music industry. She is a feminist icon. Her 2023 “Eras Tour” has generated some of the largest tour profits in history, “Taylor’s Versions” continue to top charts, and her idol status consistently inspires women and men across the globe.

However, Taylor’s worldwide reach isn’t just symbolic, as proven by her private jet records. The pop princess’s planes logged more in-flight hours than any other celebrity, emitting 8293.54 tonnes of harmful CO2 gas into the atmosphere as she flew – an environmental burden our planet cannot simply shake off!

To put this data into perspective – 8000 tonnes of CO2 emissions is the equivalent of 1,045 homes annual use (according to the Greenhouse Gasses Equivalencies Calculator). So how on earth is Miss Swift able to rack up so much CO2?

Private jets are notorious for their destructively large carbon footprint, obviously emitting significantly more greenhouse gases per passenger mile than

commercial flights. Swift’s reliance on these private aircraft, often justified by the demands of her hectic schedule between shows, the studio (and now, her new beau’s football games) coupled with the the need for privacy brings forth a valid concern regarding the incongruence between her public image and environmental responsibility she seemingly does not possess.

It’s essential to acknowledge that celebrity lifestyles, by their very nature, tend to be extravagant. There’s a reason no one has ever seen Taylor struggling to fit her cabin bag into RyanAir sizing to avoid the hefty fee. The allure of private jets lies in their convenience, enabling high-profile individuals like Taylor to move swiftly between locations with minimal hassle.

However, as conversations around climate change intensify, it becomes imperative for celebrities to align their actions with the global effort to combat environmental degradation in order to avoid being ‘cancelled’ by their fans. Unfortunately, a reposted tweet from Greta Thunberg will not compensate for the thousands of harmful tonnes being pumped into the air, Taylor. Performative activism simply just doesn’t do it anymore.

Swift, as a public figure with a massive fan base (close to 300 million followers on Instagram), possesses the potential to set a positive example for her admirers. A more conscientious approach to travel, such as opting for greener alternatives or embracing carbon offset programs, could send a powerful message about the need for change within the entertainment industry.

Swift has not been oblivious to environmental concerns; she has made public statements endorsing climate action and supporting initiatives to address environmental issues. However, the apparent contradiction between her advocacy and her frequent use of private jets raises questions about the sincerity of her commitment to reducing her carbon footprint. It is not acceptable for there to be one rule for humanity and another rule for celebrities. Something has got to give.

Fans at a concert
Photo: Erik McLean via Pexels

To be clear, I am not one to attack Miss Swift – the Mirrorball tattoo on my forearm supports that, as do the two set of tickets to Edinburgh’s Eras Tour sitting in my Ticketmaster account. However, in this age of extreme fangirling and celebrity defence, it’s important to hold the idols you love to a degree of accountability. Our para-social obsession with individuals like Taylor often blinds us from being able to criticise them, when our love for our favourite celebrities should actually empower us to be able to critique them as we do our “in real life” loved ones.

Phrases such as ‘it’s okay when Taylor does it’ are incredibly problematic. Celebrities should be role models, but instead we as a society seem to treat them as though they are above the rules. Though Miss Swift IS an icon and an inspiration, she is not perfect, as nobody is and so holding her to certain standards is just as important as with anyone else.

In defence of celebrities like Swift, the complexities of their schedules and security concerns often necessitate the use of private jets. It’s crucial to acknowledge the intricate balance between personal convenience and environmental responsibility. Yet, this doesn’t exempt them from exploring and adopting more sustainable alternatives, especially given the urgent need to address climate change.

Taylor Swift’s environmental impact invites crucial reflection on the broader issue of accountability within the entertainment industry. Celebrities possess a huge and diverse platform to influence public opinion and behaviour. Therefore, the choices they make, especially those that contribute to environmental degradation, are deserving of heightened scrutiny. Though Taylor is a celebrity and therefore has engagements all over the world, surely as the billionaire she is, she is able to access other means of transport or offsetting which could limit the damage she is doing to the planet.

After all, if we are all looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprints, shouldn’t she be doing the same?


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