What’s a global superstar to do? As of late, the jet-setting class has come under scrutiny for their use of private planes. In July, Kylie Jenner’s vehicle went for a 17-minute flight according to the flight tracker @CelebJets, earning her the label “climate criminal.” Three days later, Jenner posted a photo of her and partner Travis Scott in front of pair of private jets, with the caption: “You wanna take mine or yours?”
It’s obvious why the optics of this are very bad. Democrats are scrambling to pass climate legislation, while people are dying from heatwaves and floods. While many of the people who are dying are the economically marginalized, a small percentage of elites are generating a significant amount of carbon emissions from something as inessential as air travel. Yard, a technical marketing agency in the UK, collected the 2022 data from the @CelebJets account and found that celebrities with private jets have emitted an average of 3,377 tons of carbon dioxide thus far in 2022 by flying—482 times more than a regular person’s annual emissions. Taylor Swift topped the list with 8,294 tons. (Her spokesperson has said that “Taylor’s jet is loaned out regularly to other individuals,” aka she would like to be excluded from this narrative.)
Now, it’s easy to point fingers and delight in photos of a shame-faced Taylor Swift hiding under an umbrella as she deplanes, but I wanted to think about this matter practically. Realistically, someone as famous as Swift or Jenner cannot fly commercial. Even if they use a private terminal with separate TSA screening, chaos would likely reign both on the flight and—thanks to in-flight Wi-Fi—upon their arrival. Let’s face it: these people can’t fly with the plebs.
Here’s my solution: the mega-celebs need to hitch rides on each other’s jets. Not plane loans—legit carpooling, but with multi-million dollar aircrafts.
Celebrities travel heavily between a few different places: New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris (and their tax haven homes in Wyoming). Let’s do a little back-of-the envelope math. If a celebrity could find just one other celebrity who would otherwise also be taking a private flight, they would halve their CO2 emissions. If a celebrity manages to find four other celebrities, that’s a reduction of 80 percent! Now I recognize that five famous people all going to the same place at the same time is generally somewhat unlikely—but what about big events like the Oscars, the Super Bowl, or the Met Gala?
This doesn’t need to be logistically difficult. There’s already an exclusive dating app for celebrities. Now they just need one for jet-pooling. All they would have to do is enter a date range and a destination, and see if anyone else had a similar itinerary. They probably even have assistants who could handle this.
Of course, this isn’t the only solution. Possible, a UK-based climate advocacy organization, called last year for a Frequent Flyer Levy, suggesting a progressive tax that increases as someone takes more flights. Another solution might involve limiting celebrities to smaller aircrafts—they could even go electric.
However, none of these ideas will have the raw appeal to celebrities of my jetshare idea. Namely, branding appeal. Think about it: While traveling, they could also post about their trip with this unlikely group of celebrity friends (a known homerun for engagement), and it’s all with a do-good eco-twist. Sure they’d be reducing their carbon footprint. But also, rich people of the world, please think of the headlines.