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800+ private jets: Super Bowl's environmental impact

800+ private jets: Super Bowl's environmental impact

Image source: © canva
Marta Grzeszczuk,
13.02.2024 16:30

Taylor Swift was not the only celebrity who flew to the NFL Big Game in a private jet. In fact, more than 800 private jets landed in Las Vegas for the event.

The Super Bowl is the final game of the American National Football League, considered the most significant sporting event in the USA. It is also an important pop culture spectacle due to the halftime concerts, which gather millions of viewers. This year, it was Usher who headlined the halftime show. He was joined on stage by Alicia Keys and other musicians.

Many people who do not usually follow American football tuned in to watch this year's Super Bowl. The media frenzy surrounding the rumoured relationship between singer Taylor Swift and Kansas City Chiefs player Travis Kelce likely contributed to the increased viewership.

More than 800 private jets flew to the Super Bowl

During this year’s Super Bowl, a vast amount of greenhouse gases were produced. As many as 882 private jets were flown to the event held in Las Vegas on 11 February. These planes were used by the biggest celebrities and regular people who hired them for the occasion. Social media was full of advertisements seeking co-passengers.

According to Benjamin Leffel, an assistant professor of sustainability at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, "the United States is an example of how bad it can get when transportation is privatized". In an interview with thehill.com, Leffel compared the situation in the US to Europe, where high-speed trains are used for up to 80% of the most popular intra-continental private jet routes.

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Who is the biggest contributor to air pollution?

Many people claim that Western countries don't need to reduce their emissions as China has the highest emissions in the world. However, this argument is flawed because when we look at emissions on a per capita basis, China is not even in the top 10. According to data from ourworldindata.org, an average person in the US emits 14.9 tonnes of CO2 per year, whereas in China, the figure is "just" 8 tonnes, almost half as much. For comparison, an average person in Poland emits 8.1 tonnes of carbon dioxide in the same period.

Taylor Swift recently flew to this year’s Super Bowl on a private plane from Tokyo, which, according to Omar Ocampo, a researcher at the Washington-based Institute for Policy Studies (ISP), would emit 40 tonnes of greenhouse gases given the distance and the model of the jet. The average annual carbon dioxide emissions per person on the planet is 4.3 tonnes, according to World Bank data from 2020.

However, the scientist notes that this amount of extra CO2 in the atmosphere is nothing compared to the carbon footprint of the entire Super Bowl, including the event in Las Vegas and its broadcast across the US and other parts of the world.

On the other hand, the Super Bowl organisers claim that this year's event was the least carbon-intensive in history. The Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas was powered by 100% renewable energy from over 621,000 solar panels in the Nevada desert. 72,000 people attended the event.

Source: thehill.com, ourworldindata.org

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