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shakira
Opinion
Text in which the author defends ideas and reaches conclusions based on his / her interpretation of facts and data

I destroyed the planet for love, Your Honor

Shakira landed her plane to give Piqué a kiss, while the rest of us were left Googling which recycling bin the tuna can should go in

Shakira with her children at JFK Airport, in New York City
Shakira with her children at JFK Airport, in New York CityMEGa (GC Images / getty)
Jaime Rubio Hancock

In the fight against climate change, individual actions are also important, even if they may seem minuscule to us. Recycling packaging material, taking public transit, buying energy-saving light bulbs... Everything helps. Every small action can be useful to counteract the effects of climate change. And, above all, to reverse the consequences that Shakira’s love for Gerard Piqué had on the environment.

Last week, EL PAÍS published the most interesting excerpts from the judicial statement made by the Colombian singer, who is in court facing charges of alleged tax fraud. Spanish prosecutors accuse the entertainer of failing to pay 14.5 million euros ($16 million) in taxes on income earned. One of her most commented-on phrases was the following: “We were flying over Barcelona and I asked the pilot [of the private plane] if I could land briefly just to give Gerard [Piqué] a kiss. It’s the most romantic thing I’ve ever done in my life. I don’t know if the [Tax] Agency counted it as a day spent in Spain.”

Many on Twitter noted — with justifiable indignation — how we’re supposed to shower quickly, eat less meat and take our own bags to the supermarket in order to avoid a climate catastrophe — only so that any millionaire can then hop on their private plane and fly off to grab coffee. On top of that, in Shakira’s case, she’s a millionaire who is accused of not paying the taxes she owes. No wonder there were Twitter-users calling for flying orcas, referring to the whales that have bashed into yachts, becoming symbols of the class struggle.

The anger towards private jets — guillotine jokes included — isn’t new, of course. In September of last year, ATTAC (Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions and for Citizens’ Action) pointed out that Lionel Messi — at the time a Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) player — had allegedly burned 1,502 tons of CO₂ in just one summer with his private plane. This is as much as the average French citizen would use over the course of 150 years. Meanwhile, at a press conference, footballer Kylian Mbappé laughed when asked if he would be willing to go to matches by train, instead of by plane — as if the railroads were a forgotten means of transportation.

There are entire social media accounts dedicated to tracking the private jets of celebrities and public organizations. But few of them are on Twitter: Elon Musk suspended them in December of last year, upset with what he considered to be a violation of privacy. These accounts survive on other sites, such as Instagram. However, Musk missed a few accounts, such as the one that continues to record the flights made by the Spanish government’s Falcon jet. The numerous trips made by this plane have become a meme for right-wing tweeters (although the center-left Prime Minister of Spain hasn’t been on all of these flights).

In any case — and as Clemente Álvarez of EL PAÍS wrote, in reference to the PSG/Messi controversy — “the private flights of the richest cause around 0.04% of total [global] emissions.” It doesn’t seem like much, but “very few people generate them, which reflects the enormous inequalities in the way we pollute.” And, as we see from the responses to Shakira’s romantic gesture, these inequalities are heartbreaking: can’t I stay half-a-minute longer in the shower, while some millionaire decides to get on a helicopter and bring roses to their lover?

On the other hand, is it really romantic to land a plane to kiss someone? I’m not sure, as I haven’t even flown first-class, but I imagine that drinking champagne on a private jet and suddenly saying, “Hey, land for a minute, I’m going to say hello to a friend” seems very easy. I would say that the pilot and the flight attendants are making a much bigger sacrifice than the millionaire on board. True romance is something entirely different, as an already-classic tweet noted: “If you haven’t caught a [bus] for love, have you really lived?”

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