Regardless of how you feel about her, one thing’s for sure: everyone is talking about Taylor Swift. From her worldwide Era’s Tour to her presence in the National Football League and Super Bowl this past year, Swift has received an overwhelming amount of attention and support. However, she has also received a great amount of criticism. Of course, more exposure of a celebrity to the public eye means more people will form their own opinions—both positive and negative—about them, but this criticism of Taylor Swift goes beyond her talents and background as a singer-songwriter. Rather, the general public has looked deeper into her carbon footprint, expressing their distaste for Swift’s general disregard for extreme carbon emissions in a time of climate change.

Due to Swift’s global tour and new relationship with Kansas City Chiefs tight end, Travis Kelce, Swift is constantly traveling via private jet. With her flight information and estimates of carbon emissions—as well as those of other celebrities, billionaires, politicians, and public figures—publicly available via the Federal Aviation Administration, the general public has taken it upon themselves to highlight and share this information. Jack Sweeney, a college student at the University of Central Florida has for years run pages on X, formerly known as Twitter, that log the flights of prominent individuals. His most recent account, focusing on Swift’s private jet flights, have exposed her constant travels and emissions, one most concerning being a flight that traveled only twenty-eight miles. In December 2023, Sweeney was sent a cease-and-desist letter from Swift’s attorneys to stop his tracking and postings of Swift’s flights. This sparks a debate not only on free speech and the spreading of publicly available information, but also raises concerns of Swift’s lack of accountability for extreme emissions.

Commercial airplane flying over the clouds.

Looking at the specifics of Swift’s carbon emissions, in 2022, her private jet emitted an estimated 8,300 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide. That is 1,800 times more than the average person, or 576 times more than the average American. Furthermore, Swift has allegedly produced 138 tonnes of carbon dioxide in only three months, solely to commute to see Kelce. In the United States, the average person produces sixteen tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. Swift’s emissions in only three months exceed the yearly average by nearly nine times. Swift argues that her emissions are being offset through carbon credits, which include carbon captures through tree planting initiatives or simply paying fees to counter their emissions in the atmosphere. Although carbon offsets are valuable, for many it is hard to excuse such extreme carbon emissions that feel rather self-centered, such as that seen in Swift’s case.

As a climate-conscious young adult, I feel like it is my responsibility to educate friends and family on issues like this, especially when I have so many friends and family who are die-hard Taylor Swift fans. Yes, it is great to support the success and messages of women like Taylor Swift, but I feel it is not right for us to ignore the impact they may have on the planet, especially in a time of climate change. A story I’d like to share is that my mom is a first-grade teacher, and many of her fellow teachers are millennial women who grew up listening to Swift and still do. I believe that because of this essentially life-long connection these people have with Swift, it is easy to admire and defend Swift against any accusations. When I informed my mom about Taylor Swift’s emissions and she shared that information with her co-workers, they took it as an attack, yelling at my mom and saying that her emissions are excusable and they truly support that Swift can only fly private. This intense and deep support fans have with celebrities is truly mind-blowing to me, but I genuinely feel that it can develop in a positive direction if celebrities like Swift begin to take more accountability and responsibility for their actions and impact in the sustainability realm. Because celebrities, like Taylor Swift, have such deeply connected fan bases who will defend them to the end, if Swift made more of an effort to address climate change and sustainability, I truly believe that her fans would catch on and implement sustainability into their daily lives. Celebrities and other influencers have so much power over their fans; they can choose to either continue to pollute the environment and have a fanbase that ignores those actions, or they can switch to more environmentally friendly activities and have their fans follow.

As members of the general public, as average Americans, we will be experiencing the effects of climate change before the celebrities, billionaires, politicians, and public figures that have the money and ability to relocate from areas vulnerable to climate change. It is our responsibility to understand the reality of climate change and push for these individuals with such influence to understand it too and change their ways. For celebrities, it is their responsibility to listen, to understand their privilege, and recognize their immense impact on the planet and the environment. We, as individuals, have the power to support and guide more prominent individuals, including celebrities. Like the efforts of Jack Sweeney, it is important to make publicly available information known, to urge others to see problems for what they are and raise our concerns. Hopefully, as Taylor Swift has received more attention, both good and bad, this can be a wake up call, urging her to reduce her carbon footprint, stepping aside from a more self-centered lifestyle to one more focused on everyone as a whole. With fans that support her to the end, it would be great to see a celebrity showing the same support and care to her people and her environment.

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