Elon Musk flied private jet more than virtually anyone else in the U.S. last year, according to a report published on Monday by the Institute for Policy Studies and the nonprofit group Patriotic Millionaires.
The climate impact of his travel habits, which included taking a private flight every two days on average, are significant. His carbon footprint from his 171 private flights last year is 132 times more than the average American's yearly total.
Private planes are notoriously harmful to the environment. They are 5 to 14 times more climate-warming polluting per passenger than commercial planes, since they carry far fewer people on board, the NGO Transport & Environment found in 2021.
His private plane burned about 221,358 gallons of jet fuel and emitted about 2,112 metric tons of carbon emissions last year, the report found.
The billionaire's massive carbon footprint is notable, given his car company's mission of reducing transportation emissions. Tesla estimates that its electric cars enabled its customers to avoid 8.4 million metric tons of greenhouse-gas emissions in 2021, Bloomberg reported in March.
Musk is one of a growing number of ultra-wealthy people who regularly fly private — a practice that's surged in the U.S. over the past few years. Private-jet use and emissions from it are up about 20% since the pandemic hit, the report found.
Last year, Musk purchased an additional private plane— a $78 million Gulfstream G700, the world's largest purpose-built private jet — that's expected to replace his G50ER model, the report added.
"It's not just him," Chuck Collins, the director of the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies and a coauthor of the report, said of Musk. "He's an example of excess within excess."
"If we can't phase it out, we should tax it at a high level and use that money to build a better transit system," Collins said of private air travel.
A spokesperson for Tesla didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
The report suggests the government double the federal jet-fuel tax — from $0.219 per gallon to $0.438 per gallon — and impose a transfer tax on the sales of both new and used private aircraft.
Under the proposed 5% tax on new planes, Musk would've paid $3.9 million in taxes on the purchase of his new plane and nearly $97,000 in federal jet-fuel taxes last year.
Collins said Musk deserves a bit more scrutiny than other billionaire jet-setters because he's attempted to quash watchdogs who've exposed his travel habits.
Shortly after Musk bought Twitter last year, he suspended a Twitter account, @ElonJet, run by a college student who tracked and posted the whereabouts of his private jet, calling the real-time tracking "a physical safety violation." The student, Jack Sweeney, has since created another account, @ElonJetNextDay, which posts delayed updates on Musk's flights.