Taylor Swift and myclimate

After a discussion about Taylor Swift’s flight activity and the resulting CO2 footprint broke out on carbontracker.myclimate.org, various Reddit forums, X (formerly Twitter) and multiple media outlets on 8 February, myclimate would like to make a brief statement on this matter.

Photomontage by myclimate.

myclimate’s Carbon Tracker website – https://carbontracker.myclimate.org – calculates greenhouse gas emissions from flights by people with high reach on social media. These include celebrities and content creators/influencers. The calculation is made on the basis of publicly available data, some of which is published by the persons concerned themselves. The emissions in tonnes of CO2 are presented by a ranking that myclimate updates every quarter.  

Due to a possible legal dispute between Taylor Swift and a private individual who tracks and publishes the singer’s travel movements, the myclimate Carbon Tracker was discussed in various fan forums. While some people were surprised that Taylor Swift is not in the top 30 of the Carbon Tracker ranking (and make the strangest assumptions as to why this is the case), others saw the Carbon Tracker as a tool to name and shame public figures. 

myclimate explicitly emphasises that the Carbon Tracker campaign aims to stimulate a debate on climate-conscious travel and the influence of public figures based on scientific foundations. However, it is not a question of exposing or focusing on certain people, nor is it a question of dividing flights into legitimate and illegitimate ones.  


Why doesn’t Taylor Swift appear in the ranking?

As one of the world’s most successful and well-known artists, Taylor Swift is, of course, included in the carbon tracker ranking in the category “private jets” – just like Drake, Travis Scott and entrepreneur Jeff Bezos. This ranking evaluates freely available data from private jets. In the current ranking, which covers the period from September 2023 to February 2024, Taylor Swift is ranked 31st. For private jets, however, the ranking only shows the top 30 people (and the top 50 for influencers). Upon request, myclimate will be happy to share the list of people who did not make it into the “official” ranking.   


What is the Carbon Tracker?

myclimate’s Carbon Tracker is a campaign that aims to raise awareness of climate-damaging travel behaviour and offer alternatives to it. It is also intended to encourage people to take responsibility for their own emissions. One source of data is the flight data of private jets on publicly accessible flight trackers, while travel routes are also extrapolated from Instagram posts that feature location tags. Many influencers use this location tagging to share their trips on Instagram. These flights feed into the carbon tracker ranking on carbontracker.myclimate.org. To come up with the ranking, the creators analysed the Instagram profiles with the most followers in the world and in Germany. In addition, the tracker evaluates the posts of the micro-influencers with the greatest reach. The ranking on carbontracker.myclimate.org has been regularly updated since summer 2023.


How does the Carbon Tracker calculate environmental footprints?

myclimate has been scientifically calculating greenhouse gas emissions for more than 20 years. The Carbon Tracker uses a pragmatic, kilometre-based approach to calculate CO₂ values. If we do not know the type of aircraft and the exact flight route, we always assume, in fairness, the lowest possible value. Based on its data, this approach yields realistic results, which by their very nature, however, are not 100 per cent accurate. The website describes this transparently.  

The aim of myclimate is to prompt a discussion and draw attention to the contributions of different people to climate change – not just celebrities – and thus to more climate-friendly behaviour. The tool brings less obvious data to light, too. For example, the 100 biggest influencers and celebrities travel a distance of more than 8 million kilometres per year, causing 1393 tonnes of CO2 emissions. It would take 100,000 trees more than a year to absorb this amount of CO2. 

At the request of Taylor Swift or others, myclimate can gladly carry out an exact calculation on their behalf and based on their individual data, just as it does for its many corporate partners. However, the client alone would decide whether these results would be published. 


Is myclimate trying to name and shame artists and people with a high social media reach?

There is agreement that air travel should be avoided wherever possible and that, when it cannot be avoided, the environmental damage caused should be limited by making a corresponding contribution to climate protection. But artists want to perform in person in front of their fans: in other regions, countries and continents. It is up to everyone to decide which flights can be avoided or at least reconsidered. myclimate has no interest whatsoever in monitoring and judging people. Instead, we want to continue to stimulate debate and promote climate-conscious travel behaviour.

Stay informed!