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Airlines: It’s Time To Stop Greenwashing

The European Commission is clamping down on emissions reporting, as it transpires that the aviation industry is not being fully transparent when it comes to environmental data.


The EC has recently issued a warning to 20 airlines about their misleading and opaque environmental reporting practices. The commission has identified several potentially misleading practices used by airlines, such as using the term "sustainable aviation fuels" (SAF) without clear justification of their environmental impact, and using words like "green," "sustainable," or "responsible" to imply a greener approach.

The EC has issued a warning to 20 airlines about their misleading environmental reporting practices.


It confirmed that “the identified practices can be considered as misleading actions, prohibited under articles 5, 6 and 7 of the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive”.


However, the problem of greenwashing might not be limited to airlines alone. Ambiguous environmental data appears to be used across the aviation industry.


Cargo industry calculations

The air cargo industry has been criticized for its calculations that divide carbon responsibility between passengers and belly-hold cargo. A flight's total emissions depend on its CO2 output, weight, and distance.


However, IATA has come up with its own method of calculating the weight. It leaves out the 50kg that accounts for the equipment and infrastructure associated with passenger use, e.g. seating, toilets, crew. The IATA methodology omits the 50kg extra, unless “required due to local regulations”. 


This means that more emissions are attributed to the cargo than the passengers, effectively greenwashing the passenger figures. It is particularly damaging to the cargo industry in light of the upcoming environmental reporting regulations. 

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