Canada taxes private jets, cars and yachts as celebrities capture flak for emissions

Canada taxes private jets, cars and yachts as celebrities capture flak for emissions

  • Canada imposes a 10% tax on the purchase of luxury aircraft, automobiles and boats.
  • It comes as US celebrities come under fire for the environmental impact of their private jet use.
  • Some experts argue that the focus on individuals distracts from the need for larger climate action initiatives.

As stars like Taylor Swift and Drake are scolded for their use of private jets, Canada revealed new details on how it hopes to make the wealthy think twice about contributing to the climate crisis with their extravagant modes of transport.

The Select Luxury Items Tax Act, effective September 1, will impose a 10% tax on the full value of all Canadian purchases of aircraft and automobiles exceeding $100,000 and boats exceeding $250,000. These thresholds are in Canadian dollars and equate to approximately $78,000 and $194,000 in US dollars, respectively.

Canada’s government has argued that the tax will not only discourage the wealthy from buying high-emission vehicles, but will also reduce inequality.

“Some Canadians have lost their jobs or small businesses while some economic sectors have thrived,” the government website said in a statement. “So today it’s fair to ask Canadians who can afford to buy luxury goods to contribute a little more.”

The details of the tax follow a recent report by Yard, a UK marketing firm, entitled Celebs with the Worst Private Jet Co2 Emissions. Use of flight data from the popular Twitter account @CelebJets — who follows the jets of the rich and famous — the report details the top “offenders” and their carbon footprint.

Pop star Taylor Swift came in first. As of the July 29 report, their private jet had flown 22,923 minutes, or 15.9 days, in 2022, emitting over $8,000 in carbon dioxide equivalents — over 1,000 times the average person’s annual emissions. A 2021 Transport and Environment report found that in four hours a private jet can emit the same amount of carbon dioxide that an average person in the European Union produces over a whole year. Boxer Floyd Mayweather, musician Jay-Z and former baseball player Alex Rodriguez followed Swift on the list.

However, some of the celebrities have questioned the report. A spokeswoman for Swift, for example, told the Washington Post that the musician’s jet is “regularly loaned to other people,” suggesting many of the trips weren’t hers. A lawyer for Jay-Z, meanwhile, said the rapper does not own the jet in question.

While Yard’s analysis was not peer-reviewed and, as the authors point out, “there is no way to determine whether these celebrities were on all recorded flights,” the report highlights the environmental impact that celebrities, politicians, businesspeople and other empires have individuals can inflict significant use of private jets and other actions. A 2021 Oxfam analysis found that in 2015, the richest 1% was responsible for 15% of global carbon emissions. The Yard report, coupled with Canada’s luxury tax law, suggests this scrutiny isn’t going away anytime soon.

The luxury tax has been criticized for hurting the airline industry and putting too much of a burden on individuals for the climate crisis

The new Canadian tax has drawn criticism from the business community. Some have argued it could have a “serious impact” on an airline industry that has already faced challenges during the pandemic – potentially with the loss of at least 900 jobs.

“The economic impact of the luxury tax will be significant and has not been studied with a full understanding of our industry,” said Anthony Norejko, president and CEO of the Canadian Business Aviation Association, in a statement.

Regarding criticism of celebrities, some experts say that focusing too much on an individual’s actions can distract from the policy changes needed to make real progress, such as: B. the major climate legislation currently lingering in Congress. Others have pointed out that oil company BP, for example, launched a carbon footprint calculator in the mid-2000s in order to put more responsibility for climate protection on the individual than on the fossil fuel industry.

“I have a feeling that while Taylor Swift would prefer to make more responsible transportation decisions, yelling at celebrities online isn’t on my personal top 10 list of political levers,” NASA climate scientist Kate Marvel told Axios.

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