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In 2023, air travel was one of the most avoidable climate killers – and yet the number of flights, aircraft and private jets is increasing throughout the world. By creating visibility around as many of these flights as possible, we aim to spark a debate about excessively frequent flyers.
The myclimate Carbon Tracker uses public domain flight trackers, concert databases and social media posts from influencers and celebrities to list flights, collect emissions data and also post critical, direct queries on social media. The results are made visible in a large carbon ranking.
"We only use data that celebrities themselves publish. When someone’s tagged in a picture drinking champagne in Las Vegas one day and then posts from Lloret de Mar the next, the myclimate Carbon Tracker springs into action. Our ‘service’ consists of an automated post on their Twitter or Instagram profile. This draws attention to the account’s CO2 emissions and includes a link to our emissions calculator. There they find a critical look at their travel habits, as well as a suggestion that they donate to climate protection projects," says myclimate’s Head of Marketing Daniel Aregger.
Which flights are avoidable, or at least worth rethinking? That’s up to the individual. But fortunately (for our planet), more and more people agree that we need to avoid flights wherever possible, or at least limit the damage with a corresponding contribution to climate protection.
We firmly believe that due to major climate challenges, we all need to rethink our lifestyle, especially our approach to air travel. To do this, we show celebrities around the world that their flights have consequences for the climate. We want to talk to them about this and motivate them to make a positive impact on the climate by making a climate donation. Prominent people lend visibility to the undoubtedly important debate and, in their role model function, encourage many other people to also reconsider their flight behaviour.
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The myclimate Carbon Tracker is operated by the non-profit Swiss climate protection foundation myclimate.
For our ranking, we use two main sources of travel data:
1. Private jet trackers
With public flight trackers, everyone has access to the flight data of aircraft, including private jets. The aircraft identifiers of many celebrities are public. We use the public data to calculate flight distances. Each jet type causes a different amount of carbon emissions. We use a very detailed list of plane types to make the best possible calculation of carbon emissions. Each jet type consumes a certain amount of fuel per time – depending on its speed. For our calculation, we created a list of the travel speed of the different plane types. We then set this travel speed off against the respective fuel consumption and the resulting greenhouse gas emissions to generate the emissions factor per flight kilometer. The calculations simply serve to create a rough ranking.
2. Instagram location markers
Many influencers use location markers on Instagram to share their journeys. We analyzed the posts of 10,000 influencers and collected the most active travelers in our ranking for 2022. Besides that, we are continually monitoring travel data to generate quarterly rankings.
For the ranking, we monitored the Instagram users with the most followers globally and from Germany. We also analyzed the posts of the most followed micro-influencers globally and from Germany.
The foundation of our calculations are the shortest distance between location markers the influencers published with their Instagram posts. When calculating the distances between two location markers, we use the direct air distance and not the nearest airport. For the calculation of the carbon emissions, we assume the influencer took a nonstop economy flight. Therefore, the carbon emissions might be much higher if they flew business or first class. In contrast to the myclimate flight calculator, the myclimate Carbon Tracker calculates with aggregated emissions factors, which can lead to slightly different values.
Of course, we don’t really know if every location marker necessarily reflects an actual trip of a person. To make it most precise, we left out location posts like #throwbackthursdays, which are obviously not relevant. We also did not count any routes shorter than 300 km.
However, it can be assumed that not every trip is tagged with a location marker and the actual number flights might be significantly higher. For ethical reasons, we only refer to trips that influencers made public themselves.
We do not claim that the numbers in our ranking are 100% accurate. The ranking is intended to raise awareness for an extended travel behavior and the problems it causes for our planet.
To calculate the carbon emission values, we use the recognized formulas that myclimate has been using to determine emissions for many years. If we do not know the aircraft type and travel class of a flight, we always assume the lowest possible value for the sake of fairness. If there is interest from celebrities to adjust the carbon emission values of a flight based on facts that we could not determine, we will be happy to recalculate the values together based on the exact values. Feel free to write to us at email@example.com.
The rankings always refer to the period indicated in the menu bar. New rankings are regularly announced on the myclimate channels.
Since on average there are considerably fewer passengers per aircraft on private jet flights, the carbon emissions per person is exorbitantly higher compared to scheduled flights.
If a flight is unavoidable, a carbon offset donation can at least limit the resulting damage. The emissions calculator at myclimate.org can be used to calculate the respective carbon emissions of a flight, allowing you to take responsibility for the emissions you have caused by supporting effective climate protection.
We have a bunch of celebrities on our list. But it is not our mission to watch over everybody. The Checked Your Impact, yet? campaign is to raise awareness on the consequences of excessive flight travel.