, 2022-07-22 02:00:00,
Super-rich celebrity Kylie Jenner is no stranger to controversy, but a recent Instagram post made people hot with rage in a way she probably didn’t intend.
Jenner posted a picture of the two private jets owned by her and her partner Travis Scott with the caption, “you wanna take mine or yours?” – a jokey reference to the fact that the couple own a private plane each.
While a few fans responded praising the “goals”, there was a much bigger backlash against the display of climate-wrecking opulence. One respondent wrote, “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?”, and got over 61,000 likes.
The couple are hardly alone: outgoing British prime minister Boris Johnson used a private plane to fly from London to Blackpool earlier this year; Jeff Bezos flew to COP26 in a private jet; and Elon Musk has reportedly ordered a new private jet worth $78 million.
These cases, and many others, drew attention not only to the extraordinary wealth of the elite, but also to the astonishing rate at which the jet-setting lifestyle of the billionaire class is pouring carbon into our atmosphere.
Aviation pollution is damaging enough in its own right. In 2019 – just before air travel collapsed due to the pandemic – commercial air flight contributed 784.8 million CO2 emissions to global warming, or 2.14% of total emissions.
Apart from a dip because of Covid-19, the impact of aviation on global warming has been growing steadily over time. The number of passengers has more than quadrupled since 1990, rising from 1 billion passengers to nearly 5 billion by 2019.
The biggest contributors to aviation pollution in 2019 were the United States (22.8% of emissions) and the EU (19.3%), with these two major Western powers pouring far, far more CO2 into the atmosphere as the result of air travel (330.9 million tonnes) than China (103m) despite the latter’s population being twice as big as both powers combined.
But even though the West is undoubtedly the primary cause of aviation-related carbon emissions, your nan visiting Florida once a year is not what’s killing the planet. There is clear inequality in terms of emissions between nations, but also vast inequality within Western nations in terms of who’s causing the climate crisis.
Take the United States – the biggest contributor to…
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