BEUC and 23 of its member organisations* from 19 countries have filed a complaint to the European Commission and the network of consumer protection authorities (CPC) denouncing misleading climate-related claims by 17 European airlines. According to legal analysis commissioned by BEUC, such claims breach the EU rules tackling unfair commercial practices. The complaint was filed June 22nd, 2023.

From the press release:
"We are calling for a Europe-wide investigation into the issue and for the concerned airlines – and the entire sector – to stop making claims that give consumers the impression that flying is sustainable. This is simply untrue as flying is not sustainable and is not bound to become so in the near future. Where airlines have proposed consumers to pay extra ‘green’ fees based on such misleading claims, CPC authorities should request airlines to reimburse their customers.

BEUC members have identified numerous examples of misleading practices targeting consumers:

  • Claims that paying extra credits can “offset”, “neutralise”, or “compensate” the CO2 emissions of a flight are factually incorrect as the climate benefits of offsetting activities are highly uncertain, while the harm caused by the CO2 emissions from air travel is certain.
  • Airlines are misleading consumers when charging them more to contribute to the development of ‘Sustainable Aviation Fuels’ (SAFs): Such fuels are not market-ready and recently adopted EU legislation sets very low targets for how much they should represent in aircrafts’ fuel mix. This means that until SAFs will be massively available - beyond the end of the 2030s - they will at best only represent a minor share in planes’ kerosene tanks.3
  • Implying that air travel can be “sustainable”, “responsible” and “green” is deceptive. None of the strategies deployed by the aviation sector are currently able to prevent Greenhouse Gas emissions. It is important to stop these claims as with air traffic set to increase, emissions will keep rising for years to come."

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