Opinion — Kylie’s ‘climate criminal’ controversy is part of wider issue

Credit: Thred

The billionaire has faced a torrent of intense criticism amid reports that she frequently uses her private jet for brief journeys, despite mounting concerns over the deteriorating state of our planet.

Earlier this week, as a troubling number of countries across the globe scrambled to cope with unprecedented heatwaves courtesy of the ever-worsening state of our planet, Kylie Jenner was asking her 360 million Instagram followers which luxury aircraft she should take.

The post was instantly met with a torrent of intense criticism towards the billionaire’s blatant insensitivity and out-of-touch display of opulence amid a period of uncertainty regarding the Earth’s future.

Yet it wasn’t the tactless boasting of having his-and-hers private jets with Travis Scott that’s earned Jenner the apt title of ‘climate criminal.’

Rather the subsequent findings of internet sleuths sick and tired of letting the one per cent get away with doing nothing to combat the ongoing environmental crisis.

They uncovered, thanks to CelebJets, Jenner’s habit of casually travelling around California in her $72 million plane to avoid spending too much time en route.

What looks to be the problem here is that, for Jenner, a mere hour in any of her twenty seven cars — a collection worth $6 million — is an hour too long, and it’s for this reason that the mogul’s most incomprehensible offence is a 17 minute flight to save her a 45 minute drive with the potential to *gasp* land her in traffic.

Really Kylie? In this climate?

‘Why do I have to limit my meat consumption and use paper straws while the 1% gets to pump tons of carbon into the atmosphere for a day trip to Palm Springs?’ a Twitter comment reads, pointing out the discrepancy between public consumption and the sickeningly wasteful ways of the wealthy.

‘80% of people have never taken a plane and Kylie Jenner is out here taking regular ten-minute flights, 5 flights in the last week under 30 minutes, one was 3 minutes long. Her carbon footprint for one ten minute flight, is more than some people make in a year,’ reads another, referring to the fact that ‘Kylie Air’ can emit over 2 tonnes of greenhouse gases in just an hour — an amount it takes an entire year for a car to produce — and is five to 14 times more polluting than a commercial plane.

Now, though it remains unclear if Jenner herself was actually onboard during these short trips, even if she wasn’t, it’s clear that her cushty aircraft is creating a carbon footprint leaps and bounds more extreme than whatever us eco-conscious individuals are doing to limit our impact.

Never mind that the super-rich alone are responsible for around 50 per cent of global aviation emissions.

In fact, the practice of taking brief journeys such as these appears to be increasingly common among famous people, ballooning since the 90s and showing no signs of slowing down.

From Floyd Mayweather’s ten-minute jaunt through Nevada to Drake generating five tonnes of CO2 emissions with a quick tour of Ontario, what’s evident is that the higher the income, the less the mammoth repercussions of environmentally damaging travel choices seem to matter.

It’s an issue that was exacerbated further by the pandemic, which has seen more and more A-listers begin flying lavishly in order to dodge travel-related headaches such as infection risks or cancellations.

Regardless, unfortunately, of whether or not this makes fools out of the rest of us desperately trying to navigate the toll of an impending apocalypse on our mental health.

Those repeatedly guilted into taking fewer flights, buying second hand, giving veganism a go, and recycling everything we can.

‘These startlingly short flights show the immense impact of the wealthy in overall aviation emissions,’ says Scott Hochberg, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity.

‘The problem starts at the top with Jenner and other celebrities with private jets, but it also includes many others, as the US constitutes the bulk of the wealthy elite that have the luxury of flying.’

Of course, the frustrating reality that the eco-unfriendly decisions of a few are being paid for by the poorest and youngest members of the population isn’t new (in 2020 an Oxfam report condemned the ‘over-consumption of a wealthy minority’) but given the rich have far more tools at their disposal to bring about tangible change, the conversation triggered by Jenner’s actions is an important one.

Because as we continue to do our part day in day out, wouldn’t it be nice if the people with the resources, the platform to keep momentum going, and the knowledge that their role in this fight is a vital one jumped on the bandwagon as well? We can only hope.

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