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Green garages: How eco-friendly are the cars of the rich and famous?

Many countries around the world are now working towards more sustainable road transport goals, meaning the next few years will be key in reducing carbon emissions. And with pledges from 17 governments to remove fossil fuel emissions from cars, how are the cars of the rich and famous contributing to this current issue?

In 2017, ONS reported that around 21% of all UK greenhouse gas emissions came from road transport alone. That’s why the energy team here at Uswitch have taken 52 cars of some of the world’s most influential people to reveal which ones are guzzling the most fuel, and what switching to electric cars may do to help.

Which celebrity has the greenest wheels?

There’s no denying that some of the world’s most influential leaders and celebrities have vehicles with eye-wateringly high carbon emissions and we have crunched the numbers to prove it. Taking 52 famous Royals, world leaders, footballers and influencers, we have analysed each car's CO2 emissions against the country’s most popular models to discover which ones are the most and least eco-friendly. 

From the Bentley Arnage to Tesla’s Model X, discover just how high each celeb’s carbon emissions are below. 

Jacinda Ardern is recognised as a pioneer for sustainable transport in New Zealand, having committed to a carbon-neutral government by 2025. But her action against climate change doesn’t stop there. Revealed as the world leader with the lowest carbon emissions for her car and coming in first place on the index, Jacinda Ardern’s new fully electric Audi E-tron produces 100% less CO2e than the average person’s car in New Zealand.

In second place was James Charles, who recently purchased a Tesla Model X.  Thanks to it’s electric engine the Youtuber’s car produces 99% less CO2e than the USA’s most bought car - the Ford Explorer. In 2020, Tesla sales shot up by 40% - the biggest increase for any car brand last year - as more people swap to fully electric vehicles. Lower down on the list were world leaders Kim Jong-Un, Supreme Leader of North Korea; and Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands; both of whom drive a Mercedes S-Class. They ranked on the index with a 249% and 273% increase in CO2e respectively, compared to their countries’ most popular car models. 

How much CO2e could world leaders save if they switched cars?

Size and price matter, especially when you are one of the world’s most powerful leaders, but which one of our famous politicians could save the most CO2e by switching to their country’s most commonly bought vehicle?

Taking the carbon emissions of each world leader’s current cars and each country’s most popular vehicle we have calculated how much they could impact their fuel consumption by swapping. So who came out on top? 

Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, could save a whopping 240g/km in CO2e if he switched his car from a Mercedes S-Class to a Kia Niro. 

Over in Canada, President Justin Trudeau’s Cadillac DTS guzzles 341g/km of fuel but could save a total of 224g/km of Co2e if he swapped his swanky car for a Honda Civic. Not only this, but it would show great solidarity with the people of his country in achieving their net-zero target in 2050.

Ranking at the bottom of the list was Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, whose Hyundai Ioniq saves more CO2e than the country's most popular model - a Ford Ranger with a fuel consumption of 233g/km. 

Mapping the world’s most sustainable countries 

Taking 22 world leaders and their countries, we have analysed their commitment to sustainability based on whether they have signed the Paris Agreement, if they have congestion charges in place, how many charging points they have, their percentage of greenhouse gases to rectify, and their net-zero target to give a maximum score of 110. 

Norway, led by Erna Solberg, tops the list with 105/110 points as the most sustainable country, overtaking long-standing competitor Sweden in 2020. With data retrieved from the index, the country scored top marks in every category thanks to several measures it has put in place for a more sustainable future. These included 14,302 electric charging points for electric and hybrid vehicles, congestion charges for city centre zones, and a net-zero target of 2030 - one of the closest targets in the world. 

However, though Erna may be leading the way for more sustainable transport for her own country, making the switch to a VW ID3 - the most popular car in Norway - from her Mercedes S600 L could save a further 171g/km in Co2e. 

Other countries that ranked lower on the list for sustainable transport initiatives include Russia, led by Vladimir Putin, with a score of 32 out of a possible 110 points and India, led by Ram Nath Kovind, with 42 points. While both leaders have signed the Paris Agreement and have charging points for electric cars available, both countries have over 4% of greenhouse gas emissions to rectify. 

Play to pay: Footy electric car costs 

There is no denying that footballers earn a staggering amount of money every year by playing a small number of games each season - and they often spend that money on large statement vehicles to drive around in. 

With this in mind, we have taken 10 of the world’s most popular football players and their vehicles to calculate how long they would have to play for to pay off an electric, more sustainable, version on their current salaries. 

Lionel Messi with a salary of £1,000,000 a week could pay off an electric version of his Maserati - priced at £52,000 - in just 9 minutes of playtime assuming he played two 90-minute games a week. 

At the bottom of the list is Italian football player Mario Balotelli. On a measly salary of £45,000 a week it would take the sports star 25 hours of gameplay to pay for an electric Ferrari SF90 priced at £375,000. 

Electric earnings: Influencer car costs

If you are earning thousands of pounds per Instagram post, then you don’t usually go for the most basic cars out there. Instead, you’re more likely to buy the highest spec and flashiest car to drive around in. 

That’s why we have taken some of Instagram's biggest names to find out how many social media posts they would have to make to pay off the electric version of their current car. 

Kim Kardashian could buy an electric version of her LaFerrari worth £375,000 in as little as 1 Instagram post; with an estimated earning of £500,000 per post. Over in the UK, Geordie Shore and reality star Chloe Ferry could buy an electric Mercedes GLE350 priced at £68,000 with 22 posts to the social media site. Chloe’s price per post is only estimated at £3,059. 

YouTuber Jeffree Star would have to post a hefty number of images to Instagram to pay off his expensive Rolls-Royce. Estimated to be earning £10,000 for each photo, the influencer would need to make a total of 51 posts to the site before he could pay off his regal ride. 

Methodology 

Taking a seed list of 60 royal family members, world leaders, footballers and influencers’ cars, Uswitch has determined who has the most eco-friendly transport out there. The study has analysed which royals and world leaders are leading the way with their sustainable vehicles as well as looking at footballers’ and influencers’ salaries to determine how long it would take them to pay off a more sustainable electric version of their vehicle. 

Regal ride index

An initial seed list of world leaders’, influencers’, royals’ and footballers’ cars was gathered across a number of sources including Wikipedia, Bleach Report, Motoring Research and Starngage. We used Next Green Car and Auto Express to find out their price and CO2e. Statista was then used to find each country’s most popular car model and the CO2e levels were compared against the celeb rich list to find out the percentage increase in emissions. 

Most eco-friendly royals

Wanting to uncover the royal family’s most eco-friendly vehicle, Uswitch took the original seed list of royal family members from Wikipedia and used Hello Magazine and Motoring Research to find each member’s favourite vehicles. Each car’s emissions, engine size, top speed, engine power and fuel cost was found using Next Green Car and were scored using a weighted ranking index to give a total score out of 50. 

Which world leader has the most eco-friendly initiatives?

*Taking 20 of the world’s most famous leaders a weighted ranking system was used to find each one's commitment to sustainability. This took into account whether the country had signed the Paris Agreement, how many charging points they had, whether they had congestion charges, greenhouse gases to rectify and 0 net targets. Each category was scored out of 22 to give an overall total out of 110. 

Most CO2e saved by world leaders switching cars

Wanting to find out how much each world leader could impact their carbon footprint, Uswitch took their cars and CO2e from the original index along with each country's most popular model and calculated how much CO2e each world leader could save by switching cars. 

Football car costs

To find how long each footballer would have to play to pay off their cars, Uswitch took their cars from the main index list and found the electric equivalent of their cars on each brand’s website. Salary Sport was then used to work out how long it would take each footballer to play off their car using their weekly salary. 

Influencer car costs

A seed list of influencers from Starngage was gathered along with their car model on Google News. Ninja Outreach was then used to determine how much each star earns per Instagram post before finding the amount of posts it would take to pay off an electric car equivalent. 

Additional sources

The Driver