Ryanair’s green claims branded ‘misleading’ by UK regulator

Ryanair's green claims were denounced by the UK's advertising regulator. [Photo: FocusBreatheShoot / Shutterstock]

A British regulator on Wednesday (5 February) banned advertisements by Ryanair that gave “misleading” claims over the Irish airline’s “low” level of carbon emissions – a move welcomed by environmental campaigners.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled that the no-frills airline’s September radio, television and print advertisements broke the UK regulator’s rules on environmental claims and on misleading consumers.

Ryanair boasted that it “has the lowest carbon emissions of any major airline”.

ASA said it had called on Ryanair “to ensure that when making environmental claims, they held adequate evidence to substantiate them and to ensure that the basis of those claims were made clear”.

In reaction, Ryanair said it was “disappointed and surprised” and maintained that it is the “greenest” airline in Europe – adding that it had successfully run the same advertisement in ten European nations.

Ryanair was included in a top 10 list of polluters last year, ranking alongside some of the continent’s dirtiest coal power plants, according to Emissions Trading Scheme data.

The airline earned its dubious accolade thanks in part to its short haul internal-EU flights, which are covered by the ETS. International flights departing or landing outside of the EU are not included.

Ryanair joins EU’s top polluter club

Low-cost carrier Ryanair has earned the dubious accolade of joining the list of Europe’s top 10 carbon emitters, after fresh data showed the airline now ranks as high as the continent’s coal power plants in terms of pollution.

Environmental pressure group Transport & Environment slammed Ryanair for so-called greenwashing – a term used by critics to describe corporate efforts to mislead consumers to believe a company’s products or practices are more environmentally sound or friendly.

“Ryanair should stop greenwashing and start doing something to tackle its sky-high emissions,” said the campaign group’s aviation manager Jo Dardenne.

“This ruling is a reminder that the aviation sector’s climate impact is soaring.”

Rory Boland, editor of consumer magazine Which? Travel, said its own probe had also uncovered doubts over Ryanair’s carbon offsetting scheme.

“Millions of travellers want to make greener choices when they go on holiday, so the regulator is right to crack down on companies that make this more difficult with misleading information,” he said.

Wednesday’s ban came one day after the Sustainable Aviation industry alliance — which does not include Ryanair — vowed to slash carbon emissions to zero over the next 30 years, in line with UK government targets.

The alliance includes planemakers Airbus and Boeing, engine-maker Rolls-Royce, London’s Heathrow airport and airlines BA and EasyJet.

Europe’s airports target carbon-neutrality by 2050, planes not included

Nearly 200 European airports in 45 countries pledged on Wednesday (26 June) to drastically slash their greenhouse gas output by 2050. However, the target only includes airport infrastructure and not aircraft.

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