Celebrities, corporations, politicians need to end the climate virtue-signalling
We’ve seen it time and time again. Lectures on climate change, talking about the need to reduce our carbon footprint, and to do the small things. We are told that everything we do in our lives needs to take into account the fact that we need to save the planet.
But the people who lecture us, the politicians, celebrities, and pundits, are the ones that need to be held accountable.
There’s a new trend on social media that exposes celebrities’ carbon emissions. The Twitter account Celebrity Jets (@celebjets) tracks celebrities and their jet usage, calculating how many tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) they produce in the process. The average person in the world produces roughly four tonnes of CO2 in a year. According to the Celebrity Jets account, a recent flight of Harrison Ford’s jet produced around six tonnes of CO2 in just over two hours.
In 2022, Taylor Swift’s plane flew 170 times in just 200 days, emitting over an estimated 1 000 times the amount of carbon pollution that the average person would emit in an entire year. Kylie Jenner infamously used her plane to fly for 17 minutes, rather than drive for 40 minutes, which would produce a fraction of the carbon emissions.
These so-called sustainability and climate advocates, who use their platforms to preach the dangers of global warming and the responsibility that everyone has to protect the earth, are often more responsible for pollution than any other individual on the planet. But they aren’t the only culprits of this hypocrisy.
We see politicians doing the same all the time. We recently just had both the UN General Assembly meeting and the COP27 Climate Change Conference. Both were attended in-person by heads of states and diplomats from countries all over the world. Both preached the need for countries to do more, for people in the world to do more.
Yet, we see countries failing to meet their Paris Agreement goals, and others blatantly ignoring them. Canada uses carbon taxes to try and dissuade people from its consumption and emission, but it’s applied on even the most necessary of goods. Likewise, there’s seemingly no accountability that the revenue the government creates from these taxes is used for addressing climate change issues. It just gets pooled in the general consumption tax revenues such as GST/HST, gambling, and alcohol.
Finally, we must talk about the biggest polluters: corporations. A 2017 report showed that there are around 100 corporations that accounted for over 70 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions since 1988. But many of these companies would want you to believe that doing small things like recycling or taking the bus would do more good than limiting their own emissions.
There’s all this pressure to reduce our carbon footprint but where is the accountability for the corporations? Carbon footprint was a term coined by British Petroleum (BP) in 2005, to make consumers be mindful of their daily activities. I wonder how much of a carbon footprint BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig caused in 2010?
Other companies, like Coca-Cola and Nestle, are failing to meet their own climate action goals. These aren’t goals pushed upon them, but ones they set themselves. I wonder if they really struggled to cut emissions because it’s tough, or if it was just because they couldn’t find a perfect way to do it without lowering their bottom line?
At some point, there needs to be an end to virtue-signalling, ignorant actions, and false solutions. What can we do to fight climate change when celebrities and corporations emit more in a year than 10 average people do in a year? What can we do when governments tax us for our emissions under the claim of climate action, but are not held accountable for its use or meeting the goals it has set?
Until there is more material action and self-reflection from the biggest polluters in the world, we will not see the changes that can actually affect the course of global warming.