Airlines around the world are accused of being false environmentalists

Airlines around the world face accusations of “greenwashing” (Greenwashing) by advertising agencies, consumer agencies, regulators, and courts for making misleading claims about sustainability efforts. Examples include Ryanair, Lufthansa and Etihad Airways, which have been criticized by the British Advertising Standards Authority for oversimplifying or making misleading environmental claims.


Greenwashing is a green marketing practice that aims to steer a company’s or brand’s image toward a position of environmental responsibility that is in fact illusory because it does not correspond to the company’s real actions. NGOs often use the term greenwashing to denounce companies that care about the environment, while being harmed by their activities.

Greenwashing has two consequences:

  • Deception of consumers.
  • Investing in resources without making improvements to reduce carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases.

Most interrogated

Ryanair, Lufthansa and Etihad Airways have faced criticism from Britain’s advertising watchdog over alleged instances of oversimplifying or making misleading environmental claims. According to information from the British Reuters news agency.

Whether Ryanair calls itself “Europe’s lowest emission airline”, Lufthansa says it is “protecting the future” or Etihad Airways refers to “sustainable aviation”, airlines have been asked to avoid expressions that might suggest that their activities are good for the environment.

Airlines are being denounced around the world as phony environmentalists

“One of the things we’ve just discovered is that a lot of airlines are making claims about sustainability and green, sustainable and greener choices,” said Miles Lockwood, director of complaints and investigations at Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). But “air travel is one of the largest contributors (of carbon) that consumers make each year.”

Ryanair told Reuters it had provided all information requested by relevant authorities to its campaign in 2019, and expressed its disappointment and surprise at the ASA’s ruling.

“The Lufthansa Group provides fact-based information on the measures the company is taking to make its flight operations more climate-friendly,” a Lufthansa spokesman told Reuters, adding that it had carefully studied the complaints received.

Etihad Airways said it was disappointed by the ASA’s 2022 ruling against it.

Lockwood said the ASA would use machine learning tools to scan online ads for potentially misleading text.

Separately, Austria’s advertising watchdog last year asked Lufthansa’s Austrian Airlines division to stop making claims about a carbon-neutral flight using biofuel.

In the courts

In Europe, a civil suit filed in the Netherlands against KLM is one of the most notable cases. Complaints and cases filed against other airlines have increased. Delta Air Lines is also facing a class action lawsuit in Los Angeles over false advertising as “carbon neutral” based on offsetting purchases for its emissions.

Delta Air Lines Inc. faces a proposed class action lawsuit in federal court in Los Angeles over ads that promoted itself as “carbon neutral” based on carbon offset purchases.

The lawsuit alleges that carbon offset programs do not work as advertised and that the company misled consumers.

“This lawsuit has no legal basis,” a Delta spokesman told Reuters, adding that the company is working toward a goal of reducing emissions to zero by 2050 and has moved away from carbon offsets.

He added that the company is investing in newer aircraft and sustainable fuels to “decarbonize” its operations.

17 European women denounced it

European consumer associations have condemned 17 airlines in Europe for deceptively using sustainability to advance their own interests. The consumer organization BEUC, together with 22 associations, filed a formal complaint with the European Commission (EC) and the Network of Consumer Protection Authorities (CPC) against these companies in the summer.

These airlines are making climate-related marketing claims, urging consumers to offset or neutralize carbon dioxide emissions from their flights, members of the Consumers and Users Union (CECU) said in a joint statement.

BEUC considers these practices to be misleading and constitute a “violation of the EU rules on unfair commercial practices (Directive 2005/29/EC)”, being tantamount to greenwashing practices, taking advantage of the climate crisis to achieve its own interests.

Consumer organizations have filed suit against Air Baltic, Air Dolomiti, Air France, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Eurowings, Finnair, KLM, Lufthansa, Norwegian, Ryanair, SAS, Swiss, TAP Air Portugal and Volotea. , Vueling and Wizz Air.

The associations also asked all authorities to send a clear and strong message to airlines and the entire aviation industry to “end consumers being misled by commercial claims related to climate and sustainability measures.” The statement concluded:

“Airlines must be transparent and realize that flying is not sustainable, and will not be sustainable in the near future.”

More about the topic:

– It will cost European aviation 800 billion euros to become net carbon zero

– Where does sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) come from? video

Airlines: Sustainability requires incentives, not more taxes

– The expensive flight to green aviation: There is no shame in flying

– Starting a decade to decarbonize the tourism sector

(tags for translation) Transport

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