Via Yahoo Finance

Ryanair has been accused of greenwashing after the UK advertising watchdog banned an ad campaign claiming that the airline has the lowest carbon emissions of any major airline in Europe.

The budget airline, which was named last year as one of Europe’s top 10 carbon emitters in an EU report, later ran a TV, press and radio campaign claiming it was “Europe’s lowest fares, lowest emissions airline”.

The ads claim that Ryanair has the “lowest carbon emissions of any major airline”, based on CO2 emissions per passenger per kilometre flown, because it has the youngest fleet, highest proportion of seats filled on flights and newest, most fuel-efficient engines.

However, one of the charts Ryanair presented to the Advertising Standards Authority to back up its claims was dated 2011, which the watchdog said was “of little value as substantiation for a comparison made in 2019”. The ASA added: “In addition, some well-known airlines did not appear on the chart, so it was not clear whether they had been measured.”

The ASA also said that the ads failed to factor in seating density – the number of seats per plane – which it considered “significant information that consumers needed in order to understand the basis of the claim”.

The ASA banned the ads ruling that they were misleading because the airline had failed to substantiate its environmental claims.

“The ads must not appear again in their current forms,” the ASA said. “We told 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.”

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The environmental group Transport & Environment accused Ryanair of greenwashing instead of tackling its emissions.

The airline ran the low-emissions ad campaign just over five months after it became the first non-coal company to be named in the EU top 10 carbon emitters list.

“Ryanair should stop greenwashing and start doing something to tackle its sky-high emissions,” said Jo Dardenne, the aviation manager of T&E.

Ryanair remained defiant, claiming it had abided by the UK advertising code.

“Ryanair is both disappointed and surprised that the ASA has issued this ruling given that Ryanair fully complied with advertising regulations, engaging with regulators and providing documentation that fulfilled all the substantiations needed,” said a spokeswoman.

The Ryanair boss, Michael O’Leary, has suggested shooting environmentalists and has repeatedly denied that the climate crisis is driven by carbon emissions, which aviation produces in abundance.

Last year, Ryanair claimed it was already the greenest airline in terms of carbon emissions per passenger. The company has also pledged to be “plastic free” by 2023 and set up a voluntary carbon offset payment scheme for customers when booking.