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Why Taylor Swift鈥檚 globe-trotting in private jets is getting scrutinized

Taylor Swift is crossing the globe, traveling from her overseas tour dates while also following the Kansas City Chiefs on their path to the Super Bowl. But scrutiny of her jet-setting is bubbling up online, with people pointing out the planet-warming emissions that are let off with each flight.

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) 鈥 For weeks, scrutiny over singer Taylor Swift鈥檚 travel in private jets has been bubbling up on social media, with people pointing out the planet-warming emissions of carbon dioxide released with every flight.

The megastar is dating Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, one of the NFL鈥檚 most celebrated players. The growing romance between the couple has been closely watched, with Swift showing up at several games 鈥 which has meant much travel on private jets. The chatter got even louder the last few days after the Chiefs beat the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, sending them to the Super Bowl, which is in Las Vegas on Feb. 11.

Swift, the hitmaker whose dominance of pop culture now includes the first tour to gross more than $1 billion, is the latest in a long list of celebrities, government officials and elite businesspeople to come under scrutiny about private jet travel. A look at Swift鈥檚 recent travel, carbon dioxide emissions from private jets versus commercial planes and one of the most common, albeit controversial, solutions floated to address such pollution.

More on Taylor Swift鈥檚 private jet travel

  • Taylor Swift is among celebrities facing criticism regarding private jet travel. If she flies to the Super Bowl from Tokyo, she will emit 19,000 miles worth of planet-warming emissions in her journey.
  • One expert said he wondered why Swift was being scrutinized when most of the private jet customers are overwhelmingly men over 50.
  • Swift鈥檚 publicist said the star purchased more than double the carbon credits needed to offset all tour travel.

FILE - Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift walk together after an AFC Championship NFL football game between the Chiefs and the Baltimore Ravens, Jan. 28, 2024, in Baltimore. For weeks, scrutiny over Swift鈥檚 travel has been bubbling up on social media, with people pointing out the planet-warming emissions of carbon dioxide released with every flight. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift walk together after an AFC Championship NFL football game between the Chiefs and the Baltimore Ravens, Jan. 28, 2024, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

SWIFT鈥橲 CARBON FOOTPRINT

If Swift attends the Super Bowl, she will be traveling from Tokyo, where she is on tour. That will mean more than 19,400 miles (30,500 kilometers) by private jet in just under two weeks. Just how much carbon dioxide will that be?

While exact carbon emissions depend on many factors, such as flight paths and number of passengers, a rough estimate is possible, said Gregory Keoleian, co-director of the Center for Sustainable Systems at the University of Michigan. Traveling 19,400 miles on a Dassault Falcon 900LX, one of Swift鈥檚 jets, could release more than 200,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, he said.

That would be about 14 times as much as the average American household emits in a year, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

How realistic commercial travel would be for Swift is open for debate. After all, she鈥檚 so famous that even if she wanted to, flying on commercial flights might be chaotic for an airline crew and any public airport she frequents. Keoleian said there are other important ways that public figures flying private can address climate change, such as through their influence on public attitudes and perceptions, investments and who they vote for.

The controversy over Swift鈥檚 use of private jets illustrates the 鈥済reat disparity鈥 between the wealthy and lower-income people when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions each person generates, said Julia Stein, a professor at University of California, Los Angeles School of Law.

鈥淵ou鈥檙e seeing this play out on kind of a microcosmic scale (with Swift), but that鈥檚 true too of industrialized countries their carbon emissions historically,鈥 she said.

FILE - Taylor Swift walks on the field after the AFC Championship NFL football game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Kansas City Chiefs, Jan. 28, 2024, in Baltimore. For weeks, scrutiny over Swift鈥檚 travel has been bubbling up on social media, with people pointing out the planet-warming emissions of carbon dioxide released with every flight. (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)

Taylor Swift walks on the field after the AFC Championship NFL football game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Kansas City Chiefs, Jan. 28, 2024, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

OTHERS SCRUTINIZED

Swift is the latest of many famous people to be scrutinized over pollution from their globe-trotting. Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Leonardo DiCaprio and many others have periodically gotten attention for their travel on private jets.

鈥淚t鈥檚 striking that Ms. Swift gets so much of the outrage when private jet customers are overwhelmingly men over 50,鈥 said Jeff Colgan, a professor of political science at Brown University. 鈥淭he focus really should be on a broader class of people.鈥

Big events, from Olympic Games to the annual U.N. climate summit have also been criticized because of the thousands of people flying in to attend, travel that all contributes to climate change.

All air travel creates emissions, though private jets produce much more per person. A 2023 study by the Institute for Policy Studies found that private jets emit at least 10 times more pollutants per passenger compared to commercial planes.

FILE - Taylor Swift arrives before an NFL wild-card playoff football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Miami Dolphins, Jan. 13, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo. For weeks, scrutiny over Swift鈥檚 travel has been bubbling up on social media, with people pointing out the planet-warming emissions of carbon dioxide released with every flight. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga, File)

Taylor Swift arrives before an NFL wild-card playoff football game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Miami Dolphins, Jan. 13, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

CARBON OFFSETS

One often discussed way to address air travel pollution is paying for carbon offsets, which aim to balance out emissions released. For example, trees pull carbon out of the air, so offset programs include planting trees that, at least in theory, balance out pollution from air travel.

Gates has defended his travel by by saying he purchases offsets and supports clean technology and other sustainability initiatives. Swift鈥檚 publicist told 老澳门六合彩 that 鈥淭aylor purchased more than double the carbon credits needed to offset all tour travel鈥 before her tour began, but did not provide any details.

Still, there are many questions about the effectiveness of offsets. They are loosely regulated and investigations by news organizations in recent years have shown some programs overestimate how much carbon is being captured or have questionable practices.

鈥淥ffsets are still the Wild West of climate change and have been riddled with fraud, failed projects, and dubious effectiveness,鈥 said Jonathan Foley, executive director of Project Drawdown, a group that publicizes climate solutions. 鈥淧lanting trees, for example, might work 鈥 or not 鈥 depending on how the forests are managed in the long run.鈥

Foley, along with many climate scientists and policy experts, argue that instead of offsets for air travel, it would be much better to sharply reduce the use of planes, particularly of private jets, while developing cleaner fuels. Several airline companies are also developing planes that are powered by electricity, and thus will not have emissions.

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