Credit: iHeartRadioCA via Wikimedia Commons

Taylor Swift and the environment: You Need to Calm Down

By Emily Finch

Hate directed towards Taylor Swift is misogyny disguised as environmentalism 

Taylor Swift is undoubtedly the biggest name in pop culture right now. Currently a year into her 152 show global showcase The Eras Tour, set to conclude at the end of 2024, Swift has stayed firmly in the spotlight, supported by her immense fanbase; 53% of adults in the USA identify as fans. 

Being in the limelight, however, has subjected her to great levels of negativity online. In recent controversy, Swift has faced extreme backlash on social media for the number of trips she has been making on her private jet. The exact flight paths and carbon emissions from each journey she takes are being tracked and published online by climate activists, exposing the extent of Swift’s carbon footprint. 

Her individual carbon contribution is so large that in 2022 she was named number 1 celebrity CO2 offender, emitting a total 8,293 tonnes; 1,184 times more than the average person’s annual emissions. 

The conversation around celebrities’ environmental impact raises many interesting questions, one of which being the extent to which individuals can and should be held accountable for climate change. A significant portion of blame has rightly been aimed at large corporations whose carbon footprints make up the majority of emissions into the atmosphere. 

However, particularly due to social media, individuals such as Taylor Swift are receiving blame in a very public and critical manner online. While I agree that this is partially justified due to the extent of her environmental impact, I disagree with the sheer amount of negativity she is receiving in comparison to her (mainly male) peers. I believe there is another element at play here in the criticism she is facing; misogyny. This is best demonstrated by the lack of criticism aimed at other celebrity CO2 offenders. 

Taylor Swift is at the receiving end of this hate due to sexist attitudes masked as environmentalism. Unlike many of her counterparts, Swift has made public commitments to sustainability and pledged to offset her carbon emissions. The same cannot be said for male celebrities including Jay-Z and Steven Spielberg, who have astronomical carbon emissions, but are doing little about it. 

Whilst Swift’s actions don’t reverse the environmental damage done by her jet, it shows far more awareness than the large corporations and fellow celebrities equally responsible have demonstrated. 

A further point raised by critics of Taylor Swift concerns her net worth, currently estimated at $1.1 billion. This is set to increase, with The Eras Tour already surpassing a record breaking $1 billion in revenue. Critics argue that the extent of her wealth and her platform means that she has the ability to make a positive difference, especially to the climate crisis. Instead, she arguably promotes consumerist attitudes within her fanbase through the promotion of her global tour and its merch cycles, the production of which negatively impacts the climate.

But again, this criticism is nowhere to be seen when it comes to Bob Dylan, Drake or Green Day, who are all set to tour in 2024, generating masses of personal wealth through the destruction of the planet. 

Whether this makes it appropriate to criticise her and her actions is up for debate. I think it is important to recognise that whilst she deserves a degree of blame, her actions reflect the societal issues perpetuating the climate crisis which should primarily demand our attention. If the backlash that she receives was directed towards these issues instead of her as an individual – and perhaps as a woman, it would be better justified and not just serve as hate. 


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