Brussels cracks down on airline ‘greenwashing’

Airlines accused of 'greenwashing'

Image of Aircraft in flight. Credit: OlegRi/

Brussels has asked up to 20 airlines to end what they call ‘deceptive practices’ regarding their CO2 emissions.

On the directive of the European Commission and after an alert by the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), letters were sent out to 20 airlines, warning them to cease misleading practices linked to environmental claims or face potential penalties.

These carriers include well-known names across various European countriss, such as Vueling, Volotea, Air Baltic, Air Dolomiti, Air France, Austrian, Brussels Airlines, Eurowings, Finnair, KLM, Lufthansa, Norwegian, Ryanair, SAS, SWISS, TAP and Wizz Air, as reported by BEUC.

Accusations of misleading environmental claims

The BEUC has accused these airlines of employing deceptive tactics by suggesting that the carbon emissions from flights can be completely offset by funding climate projects or purchasing sustainable fuels. Consumers are invited to pay additional fees to contribute to these initiatives.

Furthermore, airlines have offered an emissions calculator for flights, which lacks scientific backing to prove its accuracy.

‘The airlines have not clarified whether these claims are based on solid scientific evidence,’ noted a statement from the European Commission.

Such practices might contravene the European directive on unfair commercial practices and mislead consumers regarding the true environmental impact of their air travel.

Required responses and possible sanctions

The implicated airlines must propose corrective measures within 30 days. Following this period, discussions are scheduled between the airlines and regulatory bodies to explore possible solutions.

Implementation of these solutions will be closely monitored by the Commission, and failure to comply could lead to enforcement actions by consumer protection authorities.

According to La Informacion, Monique Goyens, the director general of BEUC announced: ‘It is unacceptable that airlines have freely induced consumers to offset the emissions from their flights sometimes at a high price.

‘One can never be sure that trees planted to offset high emissions from a flight will capture carbon.’  This move by Brussels to intervene has been positively received by consumer advocates.

These steps indicate a firm stance against ‘greenwashing’ in the aviation industry, reflecting a broader effort to ensure that environmental claims made by corporations are both transparent and scientifically verifiable.

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.