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Here Are the Celebrities With the Largest Carbon Footprint from Flying
Celebrities may not set out to be role models, but whether they like it or not, this is exactly what they are. With the intense media coverage they get, everything they do is bound to be emulated, replicated and used as #goal.

Here Are the Celebrities With the Largest Carbon Footprint from Flying

Celebrities fly private jets for pleasure even when they're urging the world to quit flying altogetherBill Gates is getting ready to board his private jetParis Hilton, the globetrotterParis Hilton, the globetrotterJennifer Lopez on board a private jetJennifer Lopez on board a private jetEmma Watson rarely flies privateKarl Lagerfeld, the epitome of excess
Sure, the average Joe and Jane may never afford to buy a handful of houses a year, new cars on a monthly basis, or designer duds on every single outing, but some things are possible. With so many celebrities from all areas posting non-stop about their worldwide travels, which almost always includes glamour shots by the private jet, regular people are also inspired to travel – and fly – more.

Flying is beginning to be associated with a certain degree of wealth and glamour, and it’s true: the more you earn, the more you’re bound to fly to remote locations, recent studies have shown. To put it in different terms, the more you earn, the bigger your carbon footprint and the more shame you should feel. At least in theory.

While there are numerous stars who will tell you that we need to act now to stop climate change and still have the chance to offer our kids and our kids’ kids a chance at a normal life on this planet, the same stars and many others continue to fly as if the world's resources are unlimited. That, they are not – and this is the aim behind a study published in the November 2019 issue of Annals of Tourism Research.

The Celebrities, air travel, and social norms study, conducted by Stefan Gossling, professor at Lund University and Vestlandsforskning, Western Norway Research Institute, is not a study in the usual sense. Rather, it used data collected from celebrities’ social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) to calculate their carbon footprints from flying. It is not accurate, offering merely an understated estimation of how much CO2 emissions they generate from flying, but the results are still startling.

Heading the list is Microsoft’s very own Bill Gates, who also happens to be very vocal on the issue of climate change and the measures that can be taken to fight it. In 2017, his international journeys generated an estimated 1,600 tons of CO2, Gossling writes in the paper. Socialite turned DJ Paris Hilton comes second, with 1,300 tons of CO2, but at the very least, she never said anything on the topic of climate change. Then again, when did Paris really lend her voice to some other cause than self-promotion?

Actress and singer Jennifer Lopez is third, with 1,051 tons, followed by TV personality Oprah Winfrey, with 615 tons. The rest of the top 10 is comprised as follows: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (485 tons), business leader Meg Whitman (379 tons), late fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld (105 tons), influencer Felix von der Laden (29 tons), athlete Andre Schurrle (18 tons), and actress Emma Watson (15 tons).

As of the time of writing, Watson is the only one to have reacted to this study, telling British outlets that she pays to offset her carbon footprint. In other words, she’s making her flights “carbon-neutral” by donating money to a non-profit that actively fights against climate change.

Gossling says his goal with the study, which was inspired by Greta Thunberg’s activism, wasn’t to “flight-shame” celebrities, but rather to give them a wake-up call. He doesn’t expect them to become eco-warriors, but only to be more aware that whatever they do is bound to be mimicked by their fans and followers.

“The average annual emission from aviation per person in this world is a mere 100 kilos. Compared to that, these figures are enormous,” Gossling says. “I think these kinds of people live in a world of their own. And I don’t think they really care so much about climate change. Some of them have so much money that they single handedly could set up a system for producing flight fuel that was sustainable. But they don’t. They choose to live within the current system. The super rich in our world definitely need to wake up.”

At the very least, what these high-profile people could do would be to not advertise their flights, be they by private jets or commercial planes, to the world. They need to show more responsibility and to understand that their actions have consequences, like ripples in a pond.

At the same time, the study, intentionally or otherwise, comes to confirm what we already know: these eco-warrior stars are just a bunch of hypocrites when it comes to their personal comfort.


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