Billie Eilish, Bill Maher and All the Eco-Hypocrite Celebrities Who Fly Private

Singer Billie Eilish shares her Vogue cover with several eco activists, says she refuses to fly private 33 photos
Photo: Vogue
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Not that talking has solved anything where climate change is concerned, but it does help raise awareness of the need to act fast about it, at the very least. The two celebrities to do so more recently are singer Billie Eilish and comedian and talk show host Bill Maher.
They could be the two poles of a magnet for how different their stances are regarding climate change and just how much a celebrity (or any multi-millionaire, by extension) can do about it. Where Billie believes that the world can change for the better if she uses her platform to speak up and highlight activists who put in actual effort toward solving climate change, Maher’s approach is more of a “meh” one, where he says active measures are needed, but neither does he know what these might be nor is he convinced they should involve him directly.

The conversation on climate change has taken up an increasing amount of space in recent years, with various groups and organizations pinpointing that humanity is heading toward the point of no return. As activists put it, the clock is ticking on us, and we only have a very small window left to implement measures that would reduce our carbon footprint and the amount of emissions before the damage done to our planet is irreparable.

If this sounds too dramatic, it’s because it is.

Kim Kardashian's jet
Photo: Hulu
The discussion of climate change is a very complex and complicated one, and the goal today is to focus on just one aspect of it: private jet use, yet another conversation that’s been taking up a lot of space in recent months. According to recent studies, humanity has no chance of lowering its carbon footprint from flying if the rich don’t stop flying private, and this has shined the spotlight on how often and oftentimes unnecessarily the rich make use of their private jets.

Celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Kylie Jenner, Drake, Taylor Swift, and even known eco-warriors like the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and Leonardo DiCaprio have come under fire for their private jet use. The list could go on, including Elon Musk, Lewis Hamilton, and David Beckham, all of whom have made headlines this past year for their so-called excessive and polluting private jet use.

Not Billie Eilish, though. The 21-year-old singer is the cover girl for the January 2023 issue of Vogue magazine, and she’s using the occasion to highlight a very specific group of climate activists and to seemingly announce her intention to not buy a private jet. That’s a bold statement to make, and “never” is definitely a very long time, but Eilie would have us believe it’s not due to her being 21 and believing, like we all did at some point, that she’s some kind of superhero.

Eilish has a solution, and it involves getting creative when it comes to flying for business. She doesn’t get into specifics other than to say that she “hates” the idea of having to fly for her tours and that she’s come up with “unusual workarounds for travel.” That’s a dramatic change from two years ago, when Eilish was the regular celebrity, posting her stories from the tarmac, just as she was about to board a private jet.

Air Drake x Virgil Abloh
Photo: Instagram / virgilabloh
For her 2022 Happier Than Ever Tour, said workarounds can be quantified: “8.8 million gallons [33.3 million liters] of water saved and 15,000-plus tons of CO2 neutralized, which […] is equivalent to taking 3,000 homes off the electric grid for a year,” Vogue writes.

Besides reducing the carbon footprint of her traveling, Eilish coupled her tour dates with Eco-Villages initiatives, where every venue would have one that offered information on environmental non-profits, free water bottle refills, and voter registration. Eilish says she’s just getting started on her journey as an activist, though we might not hear more from her, because she plans to do the work without publicity.

Billie Eilish’s activism and especially her decision to not fly private (anymore) when she could very well afford it is all bulls**t, if you’d ask Bill Maher. On his most recent talk show, and completely unrelated to the Vogue coverstory, except for the fact that it also tackled the issue of private jets and climate change, the comedian came clean about flying private. He does it for business, and wouldn’t ever consider going back to flying commercial.

As he sees it, humans are not nice people in general, and the idea of getting them to sacrifice comfort for the sake of our planet has not – and will not – work as it’s intended to.

There are two kinds of people in this world, Maher says: those who fly private and those who would if they could. A third category, in which Eilish would fit in, of people who could, but choose not to, doesn’t exist. To prove his point, Maher shows all the so-called eco-warriors who constantly pester regular people about their flying habits, while they hop on and off private jets because it’s more convenient.

Kylie Jenner's Jet
Photo: YouTube / Kylie Jenner
Sure enough, Maher is a comedian – and one that often invites controversy, invoking humor to deliver hard truths others also believe, but wouldn’t dare say. He seems to be joking here, but he does make a very valid point, even when you take into account that there is no such thing as a “perfect” activist: the hypocrisy is grating. It’s not enough to discourage the message that private jet flying is damaging, or justify another, yet undefined measure to fight climate change, but it is terribly frustrating.

On a more positive note, every bit helps, so if there’s one private jet less in the air, it’s still a winning situation for our planet in general. So here’s to hoping Eilish sticks to her more recent resolution.

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Editor's note: For illustrative purposes, photos in the gallery show other celebrities targeted for unnecessary private jet use.

About the author: Elena Gorgan
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Elena has been writing for a living since 2006 and, as a journalist, she has put her double major in English and Spanish to good use. She covers automotive and mobility topics like cars and bicycles, and she always knows the shows worth watching on Netflix and friends.
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