EU launches action against 20 airlines for greenwashing

The European Commission has emphasised the need for accurate consumer information, not ‘vague or false claims’.

FILE - The sun sets behind the Manhattan skyline as a plane approaches for a landing at LaGuardia Airport in New York on Sept. 6, 2023. Most Americans believe that air travel is generally safe in the U.S., despite some doubts about whether aircraft are being properly maintained and remain free from structural problems. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)
The EU emphasised the need for airlines to transparently communicate the extent to which claims of offsetting CO2 emissions from flights through climate projects are valid [File: Frank Franklin II, AP Photo]

European Union authorities have started action against 20 airlines for misleading “greenwashing” practices.

In a statement on Tuesday, the European Commission and national consumer protection authorities said they had worked together with Belgian, Dutch, Norwegian and Spanish watchdogs on identifying the airlines that have made false or misleading statements about the environmental benefits of their companies.

Greenwashing refers to claims that aim to deceive the public about how environmentally friendly a product, policy or organisation is.

The authorities said they do not plan to release the names of the airlines involved until the preliminary stage of the investigation has concluded.

They said airlines needed to make clear to what extent claims that the CO2 emissions caused by a flight could be offset by climate projects or through the use of sustainable fuels can be substantiated based on sound scientific evidence.

The bloc also invited the companies to bring their practices in line with EU consumer law within 30 days.

“If we want responsible consumers, we need to provide them with accurate information,” EU Commissioner for Values and Transparency Vera Jourova said, adding that consumers “deserve accurate and scientific answers, not vague or false claims”.

Late last month, a Dutch court ruled that KLM Royal Dutch Airlines had misled customers with an advertising campaign aimed at improving the company’s environmental image.

The decision, which came amid increasing regulatory scrutiny on the corporate world’s environmental claims, was said to serve as a benchmark for airlines on what they can say publicly about their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies