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Carbon Footprint Controversy For Taylor Swift Ahead of Super Bowl LVIII.

As the countdown to Super Bowl LVIII begins, Taylor Swift finds herself soaring not only in the charts but also in environmental debates. In recent weeks, scrutiny has intensified on American singer-songwriter’s footprint from her private jet travels.

An estimation shows that the popstar’s flight to the event, where her love interest Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce would be playing, will pollute 14x the average American household emissions in one year.  

Swift’s sky-high carbon emissions from her private jets brewed interest at Chiefs games with her frequent travels. The pop culture icon joins a list of celebrities facing criticisms for private jet travel amid growing concerns about planet-warming carbon emissions. 

Taylor Swift’s Super Bowl Travel Footprint

The hitmaker, who broke chart records with her Eras Tour grossing over $1 billion, becomes even more popular because of her $40M-private jet’s emissions. This kind of transport is known to be the most polluting, creating a major challenge in global decarbonization efforts. 

Compared to other transportation modes, private jet emits 2 metric tons per hour per person. A U.S. domestic commercial flight releases just 0.04 metric tons of CO2.

carbon emissions per vehicle type
Source: Beatriz Barros & Richard Wilk (2021). The outsized carbon footprints of the super-rich, Sustainability: Science, Practice and Policy. Graphics by BuzzFeed News.

Swift is the world’s most carbon polluting celebrity in 2022, per digital sustainability consultancy study. Their results show that Swift had flown 170 times since January that year, equivalent to 22,923 minutes in the air. 

If the popstar attends the Super Bowl in Las Vegas, she would be coming from Tokyo where she’s on tour. That would mean flying over 19,400 miles in under 2 weeks via her private jet to support Travis Kelce. The Chiefs player is America’s most Googled NFL player in the run up to the big game.

The flights are estimated to emit more than 200,000 pounds of CO2, according to Gregory Keoleian. He’s a co-director of the Center for Sustainable Systems at the University of Michigan. 

That’s roughly 14x the average annual emissions of an American household, per data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The controversy underscores the broader issue of the environmental impact disparities between the wealthy and lower-income individuals. And Swift isn’t the only A-lister to be spotlighted for globe-trotting.

In another analysis by The Guardian, 200 rich people, including business tycoons and celebrities, emitted over 415,500 tons of carbon from making over 44,700 flights in 2023. In perspective, that’s equal to the average annual emissions of 40,000 British people.

Included in the study are famous businessmen like Elon Musk and music veterans like The Rolling Stones. 

Professional Sports and Carbon Offsets

Taylor Swift’s Super Bowl flight emissions is just a fraction of the event’s massive carbon footprint. Think about the competing teams’ own travel emissions and that of the spectators’. Then add in the emissions of hosting the event, including the arena’s energy use and the accommodations’ emissions. 

More remarkably, the carbon footprint of the digital ads linked to the Super Bowl is huge. The 10 most popular ads for the most-watched U.S. sporting event stands at 422 tons of CO2. That’s roughly equivalent to 2,800 flights from Philadelphia to Kansas City. Both cities were part of last year’s Super Bowl LVII. 

Other major events, including the Olympic Games and the U.N. climate summit, also face criticisms for their significant footprint. All air travel contributes to climate change, with private jets notably producing much higher emissions per person. They emit at least 10x more carbon per passenger compared to commercial planes. 

In an era where a substantial carbon footprint is viewed as a reputational concern for public figures, celebrities and high-profile figures have taken substantial steps to address their carbon emissions and communicate these efforts to the broader public.

Swift opted to use carbon offsets to compensate for her private jet’s huge carbon footprint. Prior to the singer’s move, the Houston Texans of the National Football League (NFL) had also bought carbon credits to offset their air travel’s emissions. 

Carbon offsets are designed to help individuals and companies address their carbon emissions by supporting carbon reduction or removal efforts. Examples include tree planting and the use of technologies that capture carbon from the atmosphere.

While the details of Taylor Swift’s air travel emissions to watch Travis Kelce play at the Super Bowl LVIII remain to be seen, it could bring the most anticipated sports event’s environmental impact under more scrutiny. The Super Bowl’s colossal carbon footprint underscores the urgent need for sustainable practices in the arena of sports and entertainment.

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