UK Celebrities: Who are the Worst Carbon Footprint Culprits?

The Eco Experts

UK Celebrities: Who are the Worst Carbon Footprint Culprits?

CO2 flights

By

As climate change evolves from questionable pseudoscience into an inescapable global emergency, a growing number of celebrities are using their power to help make a difference. Whether it’s using their platform to promote campaigns or getting down and dirty in climate protests themselves, many famous stars are growing more self-aware, and doing their bit to help our stricken planet. 

Unfortunately, not everyone is getting involved. Some celebrities are still using their power and money to indulge in climate-frying fun: private jets, luxurious cars, fast fashion you name it. It has also been estimated that the average carbon footprint of someone in the world’s richest 1% is up to 175 times larger than someone in the poorest 10%.  

But which UK celebrities need to cut down their carbon footprint the most?

RankCelebrityWhy?
1Ed SheeranTour flights, lots of properties, and not much to offset his footprint
2Mick JaggerPrivate jet, luxurious cars, lots of property, and lots of children
3The BeckhamsPrivate jet, private yacht, owns an unsustainable fashion line
4Lewis HamiltonDrives F1 cars, owns a collection of personal cars, owned a private jet for a long time
5Alan SugarHas a fleet of private jets
6Harry StylesTour flights and CO2 from stadiums
7Cara DelevingneOwns a fast fashion line

Methodology: How have we worked this out?

To back up our celebrity finger-pointing, we’ve focused primarily on three key factors: travel, domestic lifestyle, and consumerism. The main contribution to climate change in a celebrity’s lifestyle is travel whether it’s for a music tour, to travel to a film set, or just because they can. 

A common argument for celebrities taking flights is so they can keep on top of their busy lifestyles, but let’s not beat around the bush this convenience is destroying our planet. 

As climate activist Greta Thunberg once said, “The bigger your carbon footprint, the bigger your moral duty.” So, throughout this article, we’ll also be looking at whether these carbon culprits are doing anything to offset their sizable footprints.

Ed Sheeran

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Wembley night #2 ! 📸 @zakarywalters

A post shared by Ed Sheeran (@teddysphotos) on

Given today’s climate, musicians worldwide are coming up with creative ways to reduce their carbon footprint. Chris Martin has revealed that Coldplay will not be not touring this year, to cut back on emissions. Billie Eilish will also be hosting an Eco-Village at each of her stadium tours an area where fans can learn more about climate change and what they can do to help.

Ed Sheeran, on the other hand, has spent the past two years flying across continents for his latest album, ‘Divide’ – completing 255 shows in total. But exactly how much CO2 has he racked up in the process? 

The answer isn’t pretty – Ed’s flights from the Divide tour have totted up to a jaw-dropping 159.4 tonnes of carbon! For comparison, the average Brit’s annual total footprint is just 10 tonnes. You can check out his flights on the globe below:

On top of this, a typical stadium concert releases between 500 and 1,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide. If we give Ed the benefit of the doubt and assume his shows release 750 tonnes, his tour would still have released 191,250‬ tonnes of carbon. Already, simply by travelling to and performing shows, Ed’s carbon footprint amounts to a massive 191,409.4‬ tonnes of carbon.

But what about when Ed isn’t touring the world? Well, he reportedly owns eighteen homes, along with one restaurant in Notting Hill. He’s also bought his own village, after buying his neighbours’ houses following noise complaints – this village consists of five houses, his own music studio, a swimming pool, and his own pub. 

It takes roughly 900 kWh of electricity per month to power an average 3-4 bedroom house, which would release 0.25 tonnes of carbon. So, if we assume that all of Ed’s houses are this size, this would create 6.11 tonnes of CO2 each month. 

But has ‘the nicest guy in pop’ done anything to counteract this carbon? Well, his restaurant-to-be will have a key focus on sustainability and eco-friendliness, so it’s not all bad – but it’s fair to say that Ed needs to ditch those planes. 

 

What are the biggest carbon contributions?

  • Too many flights on tour
  • Powering stadiums on tour
  • Owning too many properties

Mick Jagger

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Last trip in Europe!

A post shared by Mick Jagger (@mickjagger) on

Jets, mansions, and rock and roll. Mick Jagger is one of Britain’s most prolific musicians, but when you combine the carbon emissions from his many flights, cars, and houses – not to mention his many children – you end up with a whole lot of CO2.

If you thought at the fragile age of 76 that Mick Jagger’s touring days were long over, you’d be wrong. Between 2017 and 2019, The Rolling Stones ventured across the globe to do 45 shows for their No Filter tour – but at what cost?  

We worked out that for these tour flights alone, Mick (and the rest of the Stones, assuming they travel together) will have released 25.38 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere. Mick is also partial to the odd private jet, despite it being suggested that private jets burn 40 times as much carbon – per passenger as regular commercial flights.

When he’s not up in the air, Mick gets around by using his collection of luxury cars, which includes an Aston Martin DB6, a Bentley Continental Flying Spur, a 1980 Rolls Royce, a 1971 Citroen SM, and a 1984 Morgan Plus 8. All prestigiously classy, and all outrageously unhealthy for the environment. 

We know, we know – touring is part of the job, right? But Mick’s long list of luxurious homes isn’t doing anything to cut down his carbon, either. The English singer owns roughly six properties all as decadent, expensive, and energy consuming as you’d imagine. 

While this might not seem so bad at first glance, it’s estimated that a typical “super-rich” household (defined as having net assets of more than £1 million) of two people has an annual carbon footprint of 129 tonnes of CO2. This is over 10 times the global average. If we apply this to Mick’s houses, assuming it’s just two people living in them, then he will be responsible for an eye-watering 774 tonnes of CO2.

Are there any redeeming features of Mick’s lavish lifestyle? Well, his strictly organic diet will have cut down the amount of CO2 from agriculture slightly – but let’s be honest, this won’t exactly wipe his jet-setting slate clean. There’s a lot of room for improvement, Mick. 

 

What are the biggest carbon contributions?

  • Private jets
  • Too many properties
  • Too many luxurious cars

The Beckhams

Victoria and David Beckham have basked in the limelight for over 20 years now, and – as with most famous people – their fame has come with an unsustainable lifestyle. Put simply, this involves a private jet, a private yacht, and a whole bunch of clothes.

So where are they going wrong? Well, if you hadn’t noticed, most of the celebrities’ carbon footprints on this list are exaggerated by one factor – private jets – and the Beckhams are no different. David Beckham’s plane of choice is the Bombardier Challenger 350, and however charming it may look, it can burn up to 178 gallons of fuel per hour. To compare, the average car will typically get through 2.34 gallons of fuel per hour. 

This fuel-guzzling plane isn’t used sparingly, either. David allegedly took 30 long-haul first-class flights in 2018 – responsible for roughly 80 tonnes of CO2. David is also known to fly family members’ friends to various events, such as away football games, holidays, or his wife Victoria’s fashion shows. 

The Beckhams have also splashed out on a £7.5 million yacht. This vessel has a fuel capacity of 22,712 litres, which is enough fuel to run 2,135 cars for a full hour.

Whilst David’s considerable carbon footprint comes mainly from his excessive flying, Victoria’s footprint is derived more from the impact of fashion. Her success is mostly driven by her high-end fashion brand, and – although she’s recently created a sustainable line – these clothes are creating a substantial amount of CO2. In fact, Extinction Rebellion gatecrashed her fashion show last year to protest against fast fashion trends. 

What’s the moral of the story? Don’t spend it like Beckham. Before you splash out on private planes, yachts, and unnecessary clothes, consider what you’re doing to the planet. 

 

What are the biggest carbon contributions?

  • Private jet
  • Private yacht
  • Huge clothes line (adding to fast fashion)

Lewis Hamilton 

View this post on Instagram

 

Mans made it to Montreal! Looking forward to an incredible weekend. 🇨🇦🏁🇨🇦

A post shared by Lewis Hamilton (@lewishamilton) on

When your job is to drive in circles around a racetrack, it’s pretty hard to limit your carbon emissions. Formula One (F1) has even increased its fuel allowance encouraging drivers like Britain’s Lewis Hamilton to use up to 110kg of fuel per race. So how much CO2 would be released from all this diesel each race? 

Well, for each litre of fuel burnt, approximately 2.31kg of CO2 is released. This means, assuming the vehicle completes the course, a massive 254.10kg of CO2 is created per race and it doesn’t stop there. There were 21 races in 2019, meaning that Lewis’ driving alone will have released 5,336.1kg of CO2 for the season. Surprisingly, it seems the actual driving in F1 causes the least amount of damage:

Source from BBC

We wish we could stop here and say that Lewis is a victim of his industry’s devilish sins, but alas, he isn’t. One of Lewis’ most expensive (and harmful) assets includes his Alfa Nero private yacht – 82 metres long, with a fuel capacity of 294,000 litres (64,670 gallons). The average car will typically use 2.34 gallons of fuel per hour, meaning Lewis’ yacht consumption could fuel the equivalent of 27,636 cars for an hour. 

In the past, Hamilton has also splashed out on a private jet The Bombardier Challenger, which would churn out 4.57 tonnes of CO2 making a short trip to France. However, he’s recently sold this jet in the name of being green. 

Has Lewis done anything else to help out? Well, in 2017, Lewis announced that he had gone vegan to reduce carbon emissions from agriculture. On multiple occasions, he has encouraged the public to join him on his vegan quest – only to get a tonne of backlash. As well as this, both he and Sebastian Vettel have been pushing the F1 industry for a more eco-friendly approach to the sport, which has led to the industry aiming to be carbon neutral by 2030

This makes Lewis a prime example of how celebs can use their voice to promote powerful changes. More of this please! 

 

What are the biggest carbon contributions?

  • Driving F1 cars for a living
  • A collection of personal cars
  • Owned a private jet for a few years

Lord Alan Sugar

View this post on Instagram

 

Dare to Dream Aviation best place in Florida gor Cirrus training . www.flydaretodream.com 954 776 1286

A post shared by Lord Sugar (@lord_sugar) on

Lord Alan Sugar, a self-made business tycoon, remains comfortably at the top of his empire. Like many other well-off Brits, where wealth goes, damaging indulgences tend to trail behind it. 

Let’s get one thing straight Alan Sugar is a strong advocate for business jets. Not only does he fly for business, but he is truly passionate about it. He’s proudly announced in multiple interviews that his fleet of planes include a Cessna Citation Excel, an Embraer Legacy 600, and a Legacy 650. 

“The Legacy is a personal gift to myself. I use the aircraft for business, but also as a luxury. I won’t go through the main airport terminals any more the security process is rubbish!”

To say these planes are not eco-friendly would be an understatement. Here, we’ve calculated the CO2 emissions released from a short trip to France from London, using all three of Alan Sugar’s jets, and compared it to an average first-class return flight.

Alan Sugar CO2

Figures sourced from Carbon Footprint Calculator and Aircraft CO2 Calculator.

*The average tree will absorb up to 40 tonnes of carbon in its lifetime, which is roughly 100 years (depending on the type of tree). However, we’ve calculated the amount of trees needed to offset Lord Sugar’s carbon within a year, rather than over time, since the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says we should have reduced our carbon emissions by 50% by 2030. 

Sugar sure has a collection of carbon churners building up, but has he done anything over the years to make his flight fever more forgiving? He recently donated £100,000 towards a UK charity to plant more trees – that’s pretty noble, right? 

Well, typically, £25 will go towards planting five trees. So if we divide Alan’s ‘generous’ £100,000 by 25, this leaves us with 4,000. Yep, 4,000 trees. As generous as that is, that’s only enough to offset 14 return flights on his Legacy 650 jet. So to summarise, no, Alan has not done much to redeem himself.  

 

What are the biggest carbon contributions?

  • A fleet of private jets
  • Multiple luxurious homes

Harry Styles

View this post on Instagram

 

Manchester, Live On Tour.

A post shared by @ harrystyles on

Harry Styles has been praised by many for supporting a range of philanthropic organisations around the world – but what’s his carbon footprint looking like?

Well, throughout 2017 and 2018, Harry performed a grand total of 89 shows. We calculated the amount of CO2 produced from flights on this tour alone, and the results are shocking. In total, Harry’s world tour would have produced a massive 54.18 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere about five times the average Brit’s annual carbon footprint.

This just accounts for Harry’s own travel, let alone his fans’ travel and the energy needed to power his shows. If we assume Harry’s average stadium performance releases 750 tonnes of carbon, his 89 shows will have produced 40,635 tonnes of carbon (on top of his flights).

Data sourced from the BBC

But it’s not all bad Harry is also taking huge steps in the right direction to offset his emissions. On his album tour, he partnered with the environmental non-profit organisation Reverb, and saved roughly 10,000 single-use water bottles from being used by fans – as well as 3,200 bottles that would have been used by the band and crew. He was also able to recycle more than 6,500 gallons of water from buses, offices, dressing rooms, and other backstage areas. 

Styles also invested heavily in sustainable merch last year, with a portion of the proceeds going towards the Global Fund for Women. 

Despite Harry’s globe-trotting tour, it’s encouraging to see him attempting to shrink his carbon footprint. 

 

What are the biggest carbon contributions?

  • Lots of flights around the world
  • Running the stadium shows

Cara Delevingne

Labelled as one of the most successful models to come out of the UK since Kate Moss, Cara Delevingne is certainly a celebrity top dog. Somewhat refreshingly, she uses this success to promote green living and eco-friendly movements (including Extinction Rebellion) to her 40 million followers on Instagram. However, despite this effort to conquer carbon-emitting lifestyles, people have argued that there are areas of her own that need improving first. 

One of Cara’s many paths to success comes from the fashion industry. In 2019, she became the owner of a new fashion collection: Cara Delevingne x Nasty Gal, a new branch of the original Nasty Gal brand. For those who aren’t familiar, Nasty Gal produces cheap, on-trend clothing, and was bought by Boohoo in 2017. 

Clothing lines like this are toxic to the planet. They encourage unhealthy, throwaway culture, with the average dress bought from Boohoo being thrown away after five weeks’ use. These affordable brands manage to keep the cost down by using cheap materials, which often include polyester. Shockingly, 35% of microplastics found in the ocean come from synthetic clothing. 

Companies like Nasty Gal are fueling the faults in the fashion industry, and contributing to the 1.2bn tonnes of CO2 generated by fashion every year – and Cara seems to be promoting this.

Fast fashion

Data sourced from WRI and BBC

Despite this, Cara’s efforts to offset her carbon can’t be ignored. You can find her on Instagram, shouting to the rooftops about the importance of eco living, as well as endorsing campaigns to her millions of followers. Most recently, she’s even donated her wardrobe for a fundraiser to save ecosystems. Perhaps Cara can be redeemed from her fashion fix.  

 

What are the biggest carbon contributions?

  • Owns a fast fashion clothing line
  • Having to fly around the globe for films/fashion shows

What’s the verdict?

Nobody’s perfect, and everyone has their flaws – but it’s clear that some celebs are making more of an effort to be green than others. It’s also clear that certain industries need a slap on the wrist more than others (we’re looking at you, music industry). 

The truth is, we can all do a little more to improve our way of living – and Harry Styles and Coldplay are great examples of how you can come up with creative ways to reduce your carbon footprint.

How can you help?

As you can see, some of these celebrities are trying to remeed themselves by offsetting their carbon footprints (whether successful or not). If you’re concerned about the the size of your carbon footprint, there are a number of things you can do to shrink it. Check out our top tips of becoming more carbon efficient:

  • Use more renewable energy – Whether this is simply switching to a greener energy supplier, or investing in some solar panels of your own, it’s all better than fossil fuels.
  • Public transport is your friend – Cars are carbon churning machines. Whenever you can, swap your car for the bus or train.
  • Consider veganism (or just cut down on meat) – studies have found that a vegan diet can reduce your carbon footprint by 73%.
  • Make your home more energy efficient – Insulate your walls, get your boiler serviced regularly, invest in double glazing.
  • Don’t do an Ed, and steer clear from long haul flights – As you can see, flights contribute hugely to carbon footprints. If you’re itching to go abroad, try to make it once in a blue moon.
Beth Howell Writer

Beth is The Eco Experts’ newbie. She’s keen to use her writing skills, and passion for green living, to help the environment. Whether you’re after a new boiler, or just interested in how solar panels can improve your home, she’s got your back.