How big is Leonardo DiCaprio’s carbon footprint?

Leonardo DiCaprio is a great actor. I remember being so happy for him when he won his Oscar for the Revenant; and at the same time, I felt a little sad about all those “give Leo an Oscar already” memes going away. Besides being a great actor, he is also a great advocate for environmental issues; and with his star power, he has the advantage of reaching to a wider audience on the subject, which is just fantastic. However, his celebrity lifestyle and environmental advocacy do not always go hand in hand. The Daily Mail reported that “It can be estimated that DiCaprio has potentially emitted up to 418.4 tons of CO2 last year because of his globe-trotting. The average American emits 19 tons a year”. These numbers are a clear example that he is not practicing what he preaches, or at least not as much as he should be.

Leonardo’s environmental journey apparently started when he starred in the movie The Beach. The movie got a lot of backlash for allegedly cutting down trees to gain access to the locations where the movie was shot and enable the infrastructure needed for such production. The actual beach where the movie was shot is Thailand’s Maya Bay, on Phi Phi Leh island; which has become a tourist must-visit-stop since the movie premiered, and has completely lost the secluded beauty it once had. It is still a gorgeous island that I wish I could visit sometime, but the damage done because of over tourism is such that authorities have decided to close the island for 4 months annually and limit the number of visitors per day. The initial backlash that the movie received when it was released back in the year 2000 was the apparent reason Leo started being more environmentally conscious.

DiCaprio has claimed to be a “carbon neutral citizen” meaning his carbon footprint is offset by planting thousands of trees that are equivalent to his emissions. However, according to Forbes the numbers done by the company in charge of measuring his carbon footprint and planting enough trees to offset it was erroneous.

We cannot expect him to be taking commercial flights when he travels to France or Rome while promoting his films or between NY and LA, which he does regularly. Or can we? It would be nice to hop on a plane and see Leo sitting in first class. Traveling releases huge amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. A commercial round trip coast-to-coast in the U.S. by air generates around 2 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per person; so just imagine how much more a private jet generates per person. It is around 37 times more.

Do not get me wrong, I am a fan of his. I love his work and also appreciate he is raising awareness on environmental issues. He is also known for owning a Prius and a Tesla (along with other luxury cars), riding bikes around New York city, and has several homes that are eco-friendly; but I still think he could be living a more balanced lifestyle that aligns better with the message he wants to send.


Forbes, Investor’s Business Daily


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