Pop megastar Taylor Swift is trying to shake off criticism she’s received for her private jet’s carbon footprint. 

It was revealed last month that “Taylor purchased more than double the carbon credits needed to offset all tour travel” ahead the March 2023 kickoff of her wildly successful Eras Tour. Swift’s recent travels, spanning three months, reportedly produced 138 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions–comparable to energy consumed by 17 single family homes in a year. 

In 2022, the Eras Tour headliner was dubbed the most polluting celebrity. Her team’s response? Don’t blame her–blame those who used her loaned plane. But the newly-minted billionaire appears to be very self-conscious about her jet-setting ways. To avoid bad blood with potential environmental allies, the singer-songwriter is turning to carbon offsets to atone for her climate sins.

Which carbon offset firm did Swift go with to obtain her indulgences? Neither her team nor her record label, Universal, divulged whom they went with since corporations and individuals aren’t at liberty to disclose these details.

As I noted here at IWF, carbon offsets are “tradable ‘rights’ or certificates linked to activities that lower the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere.” These certificates, in theory, are supposed to offset a buyer’s “CO2 emissions with an equal amount of CO2 reductions somewhere else.” But oftentimes, the opposite effect results when these offsets are applied to projects–especially those in foreign nations.

Regarding Taylor Swift’s dalliance with carbon offsetting, the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board correctly observed, “Carbon offsets don’t significantly reduce emissions, but they do promote the illusion that a net-zero world is possible.”

It continued, “These privately issued credits let them pretend to be reducing emissions even when they’re not. While the credits have a notional financial value, their primary purpose is to deflect criticism.”

As our Center for Energy and Conservation has noted, carbon offsetting is a controversial practice invited by the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) movement. Lately, the practice has faced immense scrutiny for invited greenwashing and, ironically, worsening the environment. 

A recent New Yorker investigation exposed carbon offsetting firm, South Pole, for selling over three million “environmentally worthless credits” to major companies who could then declare that their products and services are “carbon neutral.” 

Verra, a third-party verifier and carbon standard firm closely associated with South Pole, was similarly caught lying about its rainforest carbon offsets–with 94% turning out to be phantom credits’ that worsened carbon emissions.

A recent study revealed just 12% of offset projects “constitute real emissions reductions.” And an investigation by The Guardian found 78% of carbon offsetting projects are considered “junk.” Due to results like these, confidence in voluntary carbon markets has naturally plunged to historic lows. 

Taylor Swift is, undoubtedly, a smart businesswoman and savvy marketer. She, however, doesn’t need to sully her reputation by legitimizing this questionable practice. 

If Swift wants to do her part to better the environment, she should use her philanthropic prowess to support true conservation causes.