On your jet or mine?  Environmentalists open fire on the 'luxury broadcasts' of 'celebrities'

The laugh of Mbappe by suggesting the train to travel from Paris to Nantes to play PSG’s match with Juventus. The swagger on Instagram of Kylie Jenner and your partner, Travis Scott, who, planted between their respective jets, wonder: “Are we going in yours or in mine?”. The 170 plane trips –so far this year– of Taylor Swiftwho heads the ranking of celebrities that produce the most carbon footprint by air (8,293 tons of CO2), according to ADS-BExchangesource of the active Twitter account @CelebJets. This and other ostentation make climate activists impatient at a time when, according to calculations by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the resources planned for all of 2022 ran out on July 28 and the planet is already spinning in the red.

Barça, Espanyol and Girona

The ‘jets’ are not the only ‘anticlimactic’ luxury that the influential proudly exhibit, but, like blood, they are the most scandalous: because they are unnecessary –there is a record of 10-minute journeys– and because one hour of flight emits two tons of CO2, when the average of an EU citizen is 8.2 tons in a whole year, according to estimates Transportation & Environment. And the reaction has not been long in coming. Ecologists in Action has taken advantage this week of the ‘Mbappé smile’ news spot to question the main Catalan football clubs -FC Barcelona, ​​Espanyol and Barça- on their networks about their travel policy and the actions planned in the fight against climate change , refreshing in passing the memory to Joan Laporta, who stood for the Barça elections with a program that included sustainability measuressuch as the use of the train on routes of less than 500 kilometres.

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The crazy case of Elon Musk

Aitor Urruticoechea, one of the state coordinators of Fridays for Future, who sees the case of soccer players as problematic – “some come from humble backgrounds and can be seen as examples of improvement” – adds the crazy case of Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, who boasts of promoting sustainable mobility, but does not detach himself from the ‘jet’ (a Twitter ‘bot’, @ElonJet, details each flight he makes). And Pablo Munoz, of Ecologists in Actionzooms in on Spain and points out that the Spanish president’s ‘Falcon’ “consumes about 1,300 liters of fuel in one hour of flight, which is equivalent to two tons of CO2, the carbon footprint of a Spanish citizen around five months”.

narrative matters

“The problem is not – only – that they disregard the energy impact they cause, it is that they are in a position where people can normalize it,” warns the environmental activist Andreu Escrivà. “The role of private jets in the global carbon balance is small, but on a symbolic, emotional and narrative level, if those with privilege laugh at the rest, the ecological transition can be perceived as unfair, because the effort is not it is shared”, Escrivà points out. “Structural changes are urgent, but we need the ‘mbappés’ of the world not to laugh when they are asked if they go by train”, he qualifies.

In his opinion, the signs of rejection by the followers themselves and the constellation of accounts on networks that act as a loudspeaker for their misconduct are important. “Celebrities are people who not only kick a ball or sing, they are a brand, with commercial interests behind it; if it worsens the public’s perception, they stop selling t-shirts and cosmetics.”

inverse equation

María García, another coordinator of Ecologists in Actionassures that, in the scale and time available to reverse the critical situation, the priority is for governments to impose regulations to change social behavior, “because it is governments that, since the 1990s, have oriented their policies to privilege aviation -expansion of airports, tax exemptions-, as opposed to the railway alternative”.

“It is a systemic problem -they agree from Fridays for Future-, it is in our way of living, producing and relating, but to put pressure on governments we need the involvement of cultural referents, of its contagious effect”. “We have seen it in the MeToo campaign, which was started by a black woman and poor, Tarana Burkebut two years later it exploded when an actress took a step forward and generated a snowball effect,” notes María García.

“In a context of decreasing energy and material resources, the way to turn it around is to present models of coherence, with ‘influencers’ who speak of their enjoyment, putting the common good first,” notes María García. An example would be the Forest Green Rovers, team that does not have the stature of Manchester or City, but that is the first 100% green football club in the world: Offers vegan menus on match days, wears kits made from coffee grounds and recycled plastic, and plays on a chemical-free turf. Some values ​​that led to the Barça defender Hector Bellerin to become the club’s second largest shareholder.

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Like Bellerin, points out Pablo Muñoz, of Ecologists in Action, “celebrities must adopt more responsible and less frivolous speeches”. For now, he pins his hope on the immediate reactions of condemnation of the fans to the ostentation of the rich and influential –”especially young people”–, which have expanded this summer.

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An example of its effectiveness is that the French Minister of Transport, Clement Beaune, has come forward assuring that he is studying limiting private jet flights for individuals and companies (“they are becoming the symbol of a two-speed effort”). Or what Xavi Hernandez, Barça’s ‘mister’ admitted on Thursday admitted on Thursday that he was willing to accept a change in travel if requested by the Government or the Generalitat.

“We ask that for plane journeys that have an alternative land of up to three hours, these flights be eliminated, and discourage the use of jets by applying fuel taxes, because they are exempt from them,” they propose from Ecologists in Action. Without policies, foresees the Carbon Market Watchemissions will grow up to 300% by 2050.


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