Musicians’ CO2 Emissions — Who is the Biggest Polluter?

Musicians CO2 Emissions
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Musicians CO2 Emissions
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Photo Credit: John McArthur

Celebrities are facing criticism for their frequent use of private jets, the worst offenders for CO2 emissions per passenger. Which musicians are the biggest polluters?

Ever since Kylie Jenner posted a photo on Instagram of her and Travis Scott’s private jets with the caption, “you wanna take mine or yours?” celebrity use of private jets has been the topic of much discussion on the internet. Celebrities face such criticism for flying privately because private jets have a disproportionate impact on the environment than public flights. Private jets are the worst offenders for emissions per passenger, at five to fourteen times more polluting than commercial planes. 

Data gathered by the Twitter account Celebrity Jets cross-compared with that of the general population’s CO2 emissions paints a pretty broad picture of the top offenders — and Kylie isn’t even in the top 10. Among the celebrities whose private jets were revealed to be the top offenders, several musicians ranked high on the list. 

1. Taylor Swift

If you’ve heard anything about celebrities and their private jets lately, you’ve probably heard that Taylor Swift is at the top of the list of biggest offenders. Yard’s overview of data found that Taylor’s jet has taken 170 flights since January, emitting over 8,293 tons of CO2 — 1,184.8 times more than the average person. Her plane has spent the equivalent of 15 days in the air this year, which is exceptionally high considering the artist isn’t currently touring.

Still, representatives for Taylor Swift told Rolling Stone that her jet is “loaned out regularly to other individuals. To attribute most or all of these trips to her is blatantly incorrect.”

2. Jay-Z

Much-beloved rapper and husband of Beyonce, Jay-Z was third on the list of highest CO2 emissions and the second musician overall. His private jet has taken 136 flights this year, emitting 6,981 tons of CO2, 997.3 times more than the average person. Like Taylor Swift, Jay-Z is not currently on tour, but his jet has racked up 13.4 days’ worth of flight time this year, including a 35-minute flight from New Jersey to Boston.

The Washington Post reports that a lawyer for Jay-Z attests that the rapper does not own the private jet in question — but flight data used in the analysis is from a plane attributed to Jay-Z through his relationship with the brand Puma, to which the aircraft is affiliated.

3. Blake Shelton

Country singer and husband of Gwen Stefani, Blake Shelton, owns a private jet that has taken 111 flights this year, the equivalent of 8.6 days in the air, with 4,495 tons of CO2 emitted. Blake’s jet has an average flight time of just over an hour, like many private jets in the analyzed data. His plane’s shortest reported flights include a 38-minute jump from Texas to Oklahoma and a 27-minute flight between two California airports.

4. Travis Scott

While Kylie Jenner wasn’t in the top 10 list of celebrity CO2 emitters, her partner Travis Scott happens to be number 10, and he’s the fourth musician on the list — his plane’s average flight distance is just over 7 miles, the shortest average in the top 10. Travis Scott’s plane has racked up 3,033 tons of CO2 emissions and spent the equivalent of 5.8 days in the air in 2022.

5. Drake

While not ranked among those reported to be the worst offenders regarding CO2 emissions per person, Drake and his private jet have nonetheless been under scrutiny. The rapper’s private Boeing 767 recently flew an alleged 14-minute trip from Toronto to Hamilton in Ontario, among other short and costly flights. Drake insists that “this is just them moving planes to whatever airport they are being stored at” and that “nobody takes that flight,” but environmentalists have continued to criticize him.

“These short flights have emissions that are small in relative terms, but per person, they are staggering,” says fuels team lead Nikita Pavlenko at the International Council on Clean Transportation. “Aviation emissions are growing exponentially year over year, and private jet pollution is growing more than general aviation.”

For many environmentalists, it’s not enough to say a celebrity isn’t physically present for most flights their plane takes. Celebrities merely owning private aircraft enable massive pollution per passenger, even for the upkeep necessary to maintain the plane.