Bill Gates, the Murdochs, Pitbull: Which celebs take the most private jet flights?

Private jet owners are responsible for thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year.
Private jet owners are responsible for thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year. Copyright Canva
Copyright Canva
By Charlotte Elton
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A 17-year-old is holding the world’s billionaires accountable for their private jet flights.


A teenager has named and shamed super wealthy frequent flyers by tallying up their carbon emissions.

17-year-old Akash Shendure has compiled date that show the fossil fuel footprint of 163 private jet users.

The list details the private flights of celebrities from entrepreneur Bill Gates to rapper Pitbull.

“I really want it to not only hold certain people accountable but also spread awareness of the disparity between carbon emissions of the ultra-rich and average Americans,” Shendure said in an interview with US radio station KUOW.

What is the carbon footprint of a private jet?

The average American emits 15.52 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

In comparison, Thomas Siebel - the billionaire founder of Siebel Systems and the top polluter listed by the Shendure’s ClimateJets project - emitted 4,649 tonnes of CO2.

“Thomas Siebel's private aircraft emissions exceeded the full carbon emissions of 299 average Americans!” ClimateJets explains.

Who has the biggest private jet carbon footprint?

Shendure, a high school student in Seattle, compiled the data from publicly available information.

The result is a damning list of some of the world’s most high polluting flyers.

After Thomas Siebel, the Murdoch family - the media moguls in charge of UK tabloids and Fox News, and dozens of other outlets - emitted the most carbon dioxide.

Their private jets spewed out 4,357.25 tonnes of the heating gas.

They are closely followed by the DeVos family (4,112 tonnes), Sam Zell (4,037 tonnes) and Jared Isaacman (3,862 tonnes).

It’s not just business people who made it onto the list.

Musician Pitbull lived up to his self-appointed nickname ‘Mr Worldwde’, emitting 3,156 tonnes of CO2.

Bill Gates - who recently claimed to be ‘part of the climate solution’ and publicly campaigns for climate action - emitted 3,058 tonnes. He took 392 flights on private jets last year - an average of more than one per day.

Gates insists he offsets his carbon debt and uses sustainable aviation fuel.

AP Photo
Billionaire software mogul Thomas Siebel topped the list for private jet emissions.AP Photo

What’s the story behind Shendure’s data?

Akash Shendure was inspired to start the ClimateJets project after Twitter blocked an account that tracked and tweeted the location of Elon Musk’s private jet.

A network of volunteers helps Shendure by scanning ground control registration and inflight reporting. This information is then cross checked with fuel coefficient data (the emissions profile of various types of fuel).


How do billionaires compare to normal people on carbon emissions?

We aren’t all equally responsible for the climate crisis.

According to Oxfam, billionaires are responsible for a million times more greenhouse gas emissions than the average person.

Research by the international charity found that the investments of just 125 billionaires emit 393 million tonnes of CO2 each year, equivalent to the yearly emissions of 85 million cars.

It’s not just billionaires; affluent people in wealthy countries are also disproportionately responsible.

The top 10 per cent of global carbon emitters generate almost half of all greenhouse gas emissions, the report reads.


If emissions were equally distributed across the world, the average citizen of the Democratic Republic of Congo would see their emission levels increase tenfold.

Europeans and North Americans, meanwhile, would experience a drop in their emissions levels of almost 40 per cent and over 70 per cent respectively.

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