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I’m a Celebrity: Does Australia need to be saved from the climate crisis?
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I’m a Celebrity: Does Australia need to be saved from the climate crisis?

I'm A Celebrity and the climate crisis


The show’s two locations offer very different circumstances as far as carbon footprint estimations go (Pictures: Getty)

As I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! Wraps its 2021 editionWith Emmerdale star Danny Miller crowned King of the Castle, fans will no doubt be wondering about ITV’s plans for next year.

Will 2022 mark the return of Australia after a second year of suffering in Wales from the pandemic? It certainly seems that it is. the preferred choice among viewers.

While it’s too early for producers to be making any announcement as to next year’s plans for I’m A Celebrity, this year’s competition raised some interesting points around the environmental impact of a show that is usually based on the other side of the world.

I’m A Celebrity is a demanding television production in terms of crew size and daily broadcasting throughout each series. A usual pre-pandemic year will see 12 celebrities flown out to New South Wales to compete on the show, alongside presenters Ant and Dec and a large chunk of UK production staff – previous reports have put it as high as 130.

There’s also often family flown over for moral support as contestants begin to be eliminated, a large set to refresh and rebuild, ground transport in and around the bush for the cast and crew, and the logistics of trials to be planned.

With the United Nations Climate Change Conference – also known as COP26 – taking place in Edinburgh in November just before I’m A Celeb’s return, the world was reminded of the fragility of our climate’s health, as well as Australia’s continuing reliance on the coal industry.

This year’s I’m A Celebrity finalists got a setting fit for royalty for their final dinner together (Picture: ITV/Rex/Shutterstock)
Jacqueline Jossa was victorious on the last season of I’m A Celebrity filmed in Australia, which was in 2019 (Picture: Rex)

Plus, COP26 has become the most important conference due to billionaires and world leaders flying in private jets. carbon-heavy summit of its kind, it is natural to wonder about the carbon footprint of I’m A Celebrity when it’s held in Wales versus in Australia.

ITV’s sustainability

It is not possible to confirm the exact size of the crew or production by ITV. This means that the numbers below are speculative. Experts provide only estimates. The vast differences in carbon emissions between different aspects of the show in each nation is striking.

When presented with the data, a show spokesperson commented: ‘I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! has been independently verified as an albert certified sustainable production, which is the TV industry standard kite mark for sustainability in the UK. The show has secured albert certification when produced in both the UK and in Australia.’

The show holed up in Castle Gwrych for the second year in a row this winter (Picture: ITV/Rex/Shutterstock)

AlbertAlbert, also known as an environmental organization and independent body, aims encourage the TV and film industry to discuss environmental issues in their editorial content and reduce waste through a bespoke Carbon Calculator.

Its certification process requires that the production methods used to reduce carbon emissions are sustainable.

Long-haul travel has a large carbon footprint

Eamonn Galvin, CEO and co-founder at carbon data specialists Knowcarbon, calculated estimated carbon footprint comparisons between flying to Australia as in a normal year and driving to Wales as I’m A Celebrity contestants did in 2020 and 2021, explaining: ‘A return flight from London to Australia has 20 times the carbon footprint of travelling by car to Wales – 2,190kgs of CO2 per person compared to 112kgs by small car.

He added: ‘If our favourite celebrities want the cosseted luxury of a business or first class flight, this grows to a whopping 40 times the footprint (4,390kgs of CO2 per person compared to 112kgs by small car). The reason first class is higher is simply that those seats take up more space on the plane.’ 

Climate action platform Ecologi looked at this year’s celebrity contestants and estimated the journey from their hometowns to Castle Gwrych in comparison to an estimate of theoretical travel from their hometowns to the Australian bush.

Unsurprisingly, Australia is the climate winner when it comes to travel (Picture by Knowcarbon).
This year’s intrepid celebrities had to contend with rather colder temperatures during the British winter rather than the Australian summer (Picture: PA)

Unsurprisingly, David Ginola’s carbon emissions estimate was the highest in terms of travel to Wales (433.7kg), as he is based in the south of France, in comparison to much nearer contestants like Louise Minchin, who lives in Chester (15.25kg). It is less stark if these celebrities had traveled to Australia for the series. Each one accumulated an estimated 6,500kg of CO2 emissions.

Sam Jackson, climate impact and partnerships manager at Ecologi explained: ‘Just as they did last year due to the pandemic, this year’s I’m A Celebrity contestants travelled from their hometowns to the Welsh camp at Castle Gwrych, instead of going to Australia. These journeys will have caused 64 times less carbon emissions than if the contestants had travelled from their home to the camp in Australia.

‘Tracking each of the 12 celebrity contestants’ return journeys from their hometown to the Welsh camp at Castle Gwrych this year and combining them is estimated at 1.228 tonnes of CO2.’

For those contestants who are interested in a trip to Australia, what about a hypothetical one?

‘Tracking each of the 12 celebrity’s theoretical return journey from hometown to the Australian camp in Murwillumbah this year and combining them is estimated at 79.052 tonnes of CO2.’

What is a Carbolon Footprint?

Dr Gabrielle Bourret­Sicotte is co-founder and head, product, at climate app Greenr. She is here for us to get a better understanding of the term.

‘A carbon footprint is the amount of greenhouse gasses you release every day – not just carbon dioxide but also methane, nitrous oxide or any other greenhouse gas.

‘When there are too many gasses such as carbon dioxide and methane released into our atmosphere, sun energy accumulated during the day (in the form of heating the ground and building) cannot escape as effectively because of the higher concentration of greenhouse gasses. This leads to more sun energy becoming trapped, causing global warming and climate change.⁠’

Also, in terms of the popular ‘CO2 emissions’ measure, it turns out this is to help simplify how we can track our impact.⁠

‘Different gasses have different global warming potential, but they get normalised to carbon dioxide equivalent so we can have a single number! For example, one kilogram of methane is equivalent to 28kg of carbon dioxide in terms of warming potential.’

Australia’s carbon emission woes

Many experts also highlighted the issue of Australia’s less-than-glowing record when it comes to carbon emissions, which is obviously beyond the production’s control.

James Hand, co-founder of carbon footprint experts Giki, a social enterprise and online tool recommended by the UN High Level Climate Champions, looked at a speculative estimate of the crew size in Australia, based on previous reporting, of around 500 – 600 in total.

He shared: ‘500 people staying in a hotel in Australia for 21 nights would emit 447 tonnes of CO2 but in the UK it would be just 146 tonnes.

2019 series contestant Adele Roberts with her partner Kate Holderness at the five star Palazzo Versace Gold Coast Hotel in Australia (Picture: James Gourley/ITV/Rex/Shutterstock)

‘The main reason is the grid in the UK releases just one-third of the carbon dioxide per kWh (kilowatt hour, a measure of how much energy is being used per hour) compared to Australia, as we have lots more renewables and almost no coal,’ he explained.

Dr Bourret-Sicotte added further context for the difference between running I’m A Celebrity on Australian electricity versus the UK’s grid.

‘They need to run equipment, air conditioning and streaming devices on Australian electricity, which is three times as polluting as in the UK because of Australia’s coal-powered generation – the raw data is 0.8kgCO2e/kwh compared to 0.27kgCO2e per kwh in the UK.’

So it’s not just about long-haul travel, it’s about the power and logistics of a country, and as Dr Bourret-Sicotte declares: ‘It all really adds up!’

The show is often filmed in Murwillumbah (New South Wales) (Picture by Rex).
… Whereas the Clink at Castle Gwrych in Wales, UK this year is a better bet, climate wise (Picture: Kieron McCarron/ITV/Rex/Shutterstock)

Wales vs Australia

Branding Wales the ‘big winner’ in terms of the climate, Mr Galvin concluded: ‘Australia is already in the bad books from a climate perspective due to their high per capita emissions and use of coal, so another point for moving to Wales is that all of the production spend goes into a much more climate-friendly economy.’ 

 It remains to be seen what 2022 will bring for I’m A Celebrity, as well as Australia’s journey towards net-zero emissions, which it has pledged to reach by 2050.

King of Castle is a title that seems to be more appealing for UK celebrities than King or Queen of the Jungle.

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