Taylor swift reputation coaster

Death by a Thousand Cuts: A Deep Dive of Taylor Swift’s Carbon Emissions

Rachel Lark - May 16, 2024

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The world’s most beloved celebrity has recently been subject to scrutiny by environmentalists. The carbon emissions of Taylor Swift could be some of the most contentious of any billionaire, merely because of the sheer publicity she receives due to consistent album releases, her public relationship with Travis Kelce, and the success of the Eras Tour. Are you ready for it? Let’s dissect Blondie’s carbon footprint.

private jet

A Necessary Disclaimer 

Peeling apart the carbon emissions of one individual leading a musical empire is reductive. Taylor Swift has a massive team backing her, so her individual emissions are often conflated with the impact of her work and team. This is not to say her personal impact isn’t significant, but hard numbers are difficult to determine — but we will try our best. Everyone must understand that corporations are responsible for the most emissions — not specific people. 

Additionally, Taylor Swift is under more constructive and destructive pressure compared to other billionaires because of her fandom and cultural impact. To boot, women and minority populations are subject to extra unnecessary criticism, when everyone deserves equal feedback. Conversations surrounding celebrity-carbon culture must be intersectional and fair. Hundreds of billionaires earn more than Swift, including Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffet, and Mark Zuckerberg. 

Why is this important? The wealthiest people worldwide have, collectively, the largest carbon footprint — particularly men over 50 years old. Putting the public’s focus exclusively on Taylor Swift may detract from more lucrative decarbonization efforts, such as holding oil companies accountable.

The world’s 1% emits the same amount of carbon as the five billion individuals who are the 66% poorest on the planet. Therefore, the richest individuals — like Taylor Swift — are part of this demographic, though specific people are taking action to reduce their negative climate contribution. 

Not every rich person has the same footprint, regardless of the correlation between wealth and carbon emissions. Taylor Swift supposedly sold one of her two private jets to mitigate some of the backlash from the climate-concerned public. But, these caveats provide nuance to the numbers we see when reading about celebrities and climate change.

Spotify playing red by Taylor swift

So, How Many Emissions Does Taylor Swift Produce?

Most of Swift’s emissions are in reference to her private jet, though this is dismissive of her comprehensive impact. Regardless, her flight emissions may be the highest of any other celebrity. This is in part because she loans her jet to other people. Her jet produced 8,293 tons of carbon in 2022, with her shortest flight at a startling 36 minutes. 

With the poorest communities around the world suffering the worst from intense climate change, it is impossible to justify this excess from top earners. Here are essential statistics to understand when contextualizing aviation emissions:

  • Aviation is 2.5% of worldwide emissions.
  • 1% of people emit 50% of flight emissions.
  • Private jets pollute 14 times more than other planes.

There are two other major factors to Swift’s total impact — the Eras Tour and her regular, every day habits. The Eras Tour requires countless tons of carbon to deliver around the world. The pressure that ticket sales from the Ticketmaster fiasco surely put on incredibly polluting data centers sounds like a distant memory. However, this is a commonly understated aspect of her footprint — Scope 3 emissions. 

Scope 3 emissions are related to the indirect activities of an organization. For Taylor Swift, this includes venues and fans. The amount of waste stadiums produce or fuel fans use to travel around the world to follow her is a complex responsibility for one person to bear, but everyone must find a way to collaborate to reduce Scope 3 emissions to expand climate education.

When it comes to Swift’s personal lifestyle outside of luxury transportation, this is even more nuanced. Despite many attempts by avid fans to know everything about her life, it is not possible. Climate activists are aware these are some of the other top polluters in households — waste production, diet, utilities, fashion, and, surprisingly, using social media. 

Concrete information about these details is uncertain and subject to tabloid manipulation. She did speak out that her team wouldn’t wear real fur for the “Lavender Haze” music video, though some people claimed this was inconsistent with her diet — fans know she does not identify with any plant-based diets. It is also unclear if she uses renewable energy on her many properties or actively tries to cut waste and energy use.

private jet interior

Is She Doing Anything About It?

All celebrities could remedy their footprints by simply reducing the amount they fly. Though flight is necessary for safety reasons for many high-profile people, culture must discover ways to find alternative ways for people to travel without being bombarded so this isn’t the default excuse. Examples like Taylor Swift’s carbon footprint remind humanity to change its relationship with fame.

PR suggests Swift offsets the emissions from her private jet. Despite her team suggesting she purchased double the amount necessary to cover her flights, it requires everyone to look at carbon offsets with a critical eye. Unfortunately, Swift would need to do more to cover her impact. Otherwise, the carbon offsets will be penned as greenwashing.

Offsets are a way for polluting entities to continue emitting carbon without curbing them. Offsets have been exposed recently for being ineffective forms of climate change remediation, because most initiatives cannot sequester as much as these individuals or companies produce in an environmentally harmonious way. Additionally, infamous offsetting projects like tree-planting initiatives cannot continue capturing carbon if a wildfire or other natural disaster takes out the forest.

What More Could She Do?

Plenty of touring artists have changed the game for sustainable entertainment. She must advocate for the planet by publicizing her commitment to taking action for a less wasteful, decarbonized touring experience. Additionally, she should invest funds in climate action. Here are some ideas for a greener concert lifestyle, promoted by artists like Miley Cyrus and Radiohead:

  • Eliminating physical tickets
  • Using renewable energy to power concerts
  • Reduce single-use waste like confetti
  • Prohibiting single-use plastic waste from on-site vendors
  • Implementing more robust recycling and composting programs at venues
  • Limiting or eliminating pyrotechnics
  • Wearing sustainable costumes from ethically made sources
  • Speaking during set breaks about how her audience can help her make the planet greener

Additionally, she should help educate her fans on how to be greener while interacting with music and travel. Hopefully, fans will see her be more upfront about her impact in her professional and personal life.

Taylor Swift Carbon Emissions Hits Different

Long story short — all celebrities need to take a stand for the planet. Taylor Swift’s jet usage is a massive catalyst for discussing the impact of excessive flights, but billionaires and the entertainment industry are also important to analyze with a keen eye. Everything from the Eras Tour’s confetti and seismic impact to Taylor Swift’s properties leave a mark. Legislation is the way to hold people accountable, so let’s advocate for it together.

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About the author

Rachel Lark

Rachel serves as the Assistant Editor of Environment.co. A true foodie and activist at heart, she loves covering topics ranging from veganism to off grid living.