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The stars pinned on social networks for their private jet flights

The “jet set” has never been so aptly named. Businessmen, stars and politicians used to travel luxuriously in private planes. Only in times of the climate emergency is this way of life more and more cringe-inducing. Web sleuths have therefore taken the decision to publicly post their high-carbon private jet journeys on social media.

After posting a photo of her plane and that of her companion on Instagram in mid-July, reality TV star Kylie Jenner was called “climate criminal” by Internet users.

Countless “memes”, humorous photos or videos, have also circulated to make fun of the singer Taylor Swift after the publication this Friday of an analysis by the marketing agency Yard, which classifies it as “the most polluting celebrity of the year“, with 170 flights since the beginning of the year.

Yard relied on data from the Twitter account “Celebrity Jetswhich tracks celebrity thefts through public online data.

This account was started by a 19-year-old college student named Jack Sweeney. It started in June 2020 following the private jet ofElon Musk and now has 30 accounts tracking both sports stars, “tech”, like the boss of Meta Mark Zuckerberg, or even Russian oligarchs.

He inspired other Internet users like Sébastien*, a 35-year-old aeronautical engineer who created the account “I Fly Bernard” on the routes of the planes of French billionaires to challenge them on their carbon footprint.

What I’m trying to denounce is their use of private jets as taxis“, he explains to AFP, pointing to the many domestic or European flights made by the planes.

Peter DeCarlo, a professor at Hopkins University, explained in an article in the Washington Post that the problem is also the emulation aroused by this polluting way of life.

“[…] A private jet is becoming a status symbol and something people yearn for, and it’s not what we need right now in the face of global warming” he said.

5 to 14 times more polluting than a conventional flight

In Europe, three quarters of these flights could be made by train“, denounces William Todts, executive director of Transport & Environment, which brings together European NGOs in the sector.

The airline industry is responsible for 2 to 3% of global CO2 emissions but according to a Transport & Environment report published last May. Private flights have a carbon footprint per passenger 5 to 14 times greater than commercial flights and 50 times greater than the train, according to this source.

Private aviation has also been booming since the pandemic, its customers wishing to avoid flight cancellations and promiscuity in the face of the virus.

Some stars reacted to pressure from social networks. Last week, a spokesperson for Taylor Swift claimed in the press that she “regularly lends his jet to other people“.”Attributing most or all of these rides to him is totally incorrect.“, he continues.

The rapper drakesingled out for a 14-minute flight from Toronto to Hamilton, replied on Instagram that the plane had been moved to park elsewhere, “no one was on this flight“, he clarified.

It’s even worse if he flew empty“, chokes Béatrice Jarrige, project manager within the association Shift Project.

In France, a spokesman for the Bouygues group assures that the plane followed by “I Fly Bernard” presented as that of Martin Bouygues belongs to the group and “is used by several collaboratorsHe clarifies that the plane’s CO2 emissions are offset by reforestation projects, a solution criticized for not reducing emissions substantially.

Bernard Arnault, Jean-Charles Decaux and Vincent Bolloré, also targeted by the Twitter account, declined to comment.

The hypocrisy of politicians also targeted

If the thefts of businessmen and stars are scrutinized, those of politicians are also, and perhaps even more so. Thus, during COP26 in Glasgow, which took place at the end of 2021, more than 400 private jets were mobilized according to the Daily Mail. A report that made climate activists jump, who pointed out that some European leaders could reach the Scottish city in a few hours by cleaner means.

Ms Jarrige hopes this social media movement will turn into political action. “It is not a question of completely banning flights, but the richest must make an effort to be sober“, she specifies, pleading for investments in the railway.

For Mr. Todts, jet owners should at least require that they run on biofuels rather than kerosene, because that would push aircraft manufacturers to develop these technologies.

In September 2021, the business aviation sector estimated that these sustainable fuels are “key“to achieve the carbon neutrality target it has set for 2050.

*The first name has been changed because the person wishes to remain anonymous.

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