Sunday, March 3, 2024

Super Bowl LVIII: Taylor Swift’s Carbon Footprint Vs. the First Championship Game Powered By 100% Renewable Energy

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Super Bowl LVIII will be the National Football League’s first 100 percent renewable energy-powered championship game. But that achievement could be overshadowed by Taylor Swift’s private jet emissions.

As Super Bowl LVIII approaches, Taylor Swift finds herself once again in the spotlight due to the carbon footprint associated with her private jet travels to support her boyfriend, Kansas City Chiefs tight end, Travis Kelce.

Private jets, known for their high carbon emissions, have placed Swift among the celebrities criticized for their environmental impact. One analysis suggests that Swift’s flight to the Super Bowl alone — coming from a sold-out concert in Tokyo — could emit more than 200,000 pounds of CO2, which is roughly 14 times the annual emissions of the average American household.

Swift’s private jet emissions have churned up so much controversy that the star recently sent a cease-and-desist letter to Jack Sweeney, the Florida student who has been tracking her jet. The “Anti-Hero” singer claims making her whereabouts public puts her life in danger. But some critics say it’s an effort to quash conversations about her private jet travels; she was labeled as the world’s most carbon-polluting celebrity in 2022 — even before she began regularly flying to Kansas City Chiefs games. The singer says she has turned to carbon offsets to mitigate her jet emissions. But it’s a controversial practice, particularly as the world’s leading climate scientists say reducing emissions is more critical than ever if we’re to keep the planet from soaring past the 1.5 degrees Celsius warming limit.

Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.
Allegiant Stadium is home to Super Bowl LVIII and will be powered by renewable energy | Photo courtesy

Carbon offsetting involves supporting projects that reduce or remove carbon from the atmosphere, such as tree planting or carbon capture technologies. But it’s done instead of reducing emissions-producing activities, such as flying private jets, in the first place. Carbon Market Watch says offsetting provides an excuse for avoiding real emission reductions and can even lead to a “dangerous mirage” of climate neutrality when emissions are actually rising.

As Swift’s emissions are being called into question, the NFL is setting an example in renewable energy. Sunday’s Super Bowl will be the League’s first championship game fully powered by renewable energy. The event will be hosted at Allegiant Stadium, the Las Vegas Raiders’ home since 2020, which has embraced a green energy initiative.

Super Bowl LVIII goes 100 percent renewable

“On Super Bowl Sunday, more than 100 million Americans will experience firsthand that America can harness the sun, wind and earth to get all the energy we need, and more,” Johanna Neumann, Senior Director of Environment America Research & Policy Center’s Campaign for 100 percent Renewable Energy, said in a statement. “Other sports venues and teams should follow the leads of Allegiant Stadium and the Las Vegas Raiders and get their energy from 100 percent renewable sources.”

Allegiant Stadium is powered by utility-scale solar arrays, complemented by Nevada’s wind, geothermal, and hydroelectric power. This initiative highlights the stadium’s commitment to sustainability and the broader potential for renewable energy within the state. To accommodate the substantial energy demands of hosting the Super Bowl, the Las Vegas Raiders have partnered with NV Energy in a 25-year power purchase agreement. This collaboration focuses on a 621,000 solar panel installation nestled in the Nevada desert, showcasing the significant investment in renewable energy infrastructure to support such a high-profile event.

wind turbines
Photo Courtesy Mark König

According to NV Energy’s CEO Doug Cannon, the solar installation will supply more than ten megawatts of power for the Super Bowl — roughly equivalent to the consumption of 46,000 homes (compared to Swift’s emissions which are 14 times the emissions produced by an average American household in one year). Nevada’s renewable energy landscape is robust, with a potential that far exceeds the state’s current electricity needs. The “We Have the Power” report underscores this capacity, indicating that solar energy alone could fulfill Nevada’s 2020 electricity requirements 227 times over. By 2022, the state had installed sufficient solar capacity to supply electricity to nearly one million average American homes annually, underscoring the vast potential of solar power in the region.

Renewable energy boom

New data from the World Economic Forum says 2023 saw a renewable energy boom with a 50 percent increase in global energy systems over 2022. “The new [International Energy Agency’s Renewables 2023] report shows that under current policies and market conditions, global renewable capacity is already on course to increase by two-and-a-half times by 2030. It’s not enough yet to reach the COP28 goal of tripling renewables, but we’re moving closer – and governments have the tools needed to close the gap,” IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said in a statement.

“For me, the most important challenge for the international community is rapidly scaling up financing and deployment of renewables in most emerging and developing economies, many of which are being left behind in the new energy economy. Success in meeting the tripling goal will hinge on this,” he said.

The World Economic Forum says that there’s an increased effort to decarbonize following discussions at COP28 about tripling renewable energy capacity by 2030. WEF says this could lead to the fastest growth in renewable energy in the next five years.

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