Do you want to take mine or yours?” wrote Kylie Jenner, the last sister of the Kardashian-Jenner clan, commenting on a photo showing two private jets. On Instagram, the post generated more than 8 million ‘likes’ and nearly 50,000 comments. Among them were many harsh criticisms. “Climate change you said”, for example, received 92,000 ‘likes’. “What’s the point of me recycling”, 85,000 ‘likes’, “That’s why we need to tax the rich”, 70,000 ‘likes’, or “Meanwhile, I’m just trying to fill up my tank”, 30,000 ‘likes’.
In recent months, the lifestyle advocated by the influencers has become less and less popular, while energy prices are skyrocketing and the government is asking everyone to make efforts to be more sober. At the beginning of June, the collective Paye ton influence published an article on the media outlet Vert.eco asking the celebrities of social networks to “wake up”. Their “ecological awakening” would allow a whole generation to be swayed by environmental issues,” it wrote.
On its Instagram account, Pay Your Influence regularly denounces and alerts on the unethical practices of influencers and their harmful partnerships for the planet. “Our first objective is to challenge influencers to question themselves because if they are part of the problem, they are also clearly part of the solution. Many ignore us or even block us, but more and more are talking to us and telling us that these issues interest them,” explains Amélie Deloche, co-founder of Pay Your Influence.
A few weeks earlier, students from the University of Paris-Dauphine published an open letter to influencers to let them know they were “fed up”. “You continue to share your ultra-abundant lifestyles and consumption, demonstrating an off-the-ground personal and professional success. As a result, you encourage millions of your followers to continue this hyper-consumption dynamic through your product placements and contests,” they wrote.
The IPCC has also highlighted their key role. “Social influencers and opinion leaders can drive the adoption of low-carbon technologies, behaviours and lifestyles,” reads the third part of its latest report. “When will there be a mass of influencers who only talk about things that have a low carbon footprint and cause avoided emissions?” says Jean-Marc Jancovici, co-founder of Carbone 4 and president of the Shift Project, on Linkedin.
Prioritising the train, for example
The influence agency Follow anticipates these growing protests. “For several months now, we have been explaining to our content creators that it is better to prioritise the train when they can because it will inevitably have an impact on their community. It’s going to create interaction, membership. And from a business point of view, we also feel that brands are becoming more and more careful and are adopting more eco-responsible approaches,” explains Ruben Cohen, one of the founders. Training courses will be launched by the end of the year.
Youtuber Benjamin Martine, aka Tolt, has made a big decision in 2019: to stop flying. “After a while I told myself that I was in denial, I couldn’t continue to fly while knowing the current climate emergency,” he explains. No longer travelling to the ends of the earth, he now travels throughout Europe, but especially in France, where he films in the Aveyron, Berry, Lot and Meuse regions. The youtuber, who now defines himself as “specialised in low-carbon travel”, is trying to find solutions to travel while polluting as little as possible.
“There is a turning point because people realise that climate change is here and now, and that we are moving towards more and more restrictions. Influencers need to be aware of this. The next step will be to make them aware of the impacts of the lifestyles they defend,” says Amélie Deloche. In a few years’ time, posts about travelling by train or bicycle may become THE trend to follow…