RyanAir accused of “green washing” over advertising claims of low Co2

If you live in the U.K. you’ll be aware of a massive RyanAir TV and radio campaign claiming it’s the lowest emitter of Co2 out of all European airlines.

This is a lie at the same time as being true – it’s all about understanding how the claim is justified which the ads simply don’t mention, and the complaints to the Advertising Standards Agency are piling up.

The lie is that RyanAir is in reality one of Europe’s top Co2 emitters. The top 9 are all coal fired power stations – number 10 is RyanAir.

Indeed it’s Co2 emissions have actually risen, it released 9.9 megatonnes of Co2 up 6.9% on 2017’s figures.

How it gets to claim the lowest emissions for a European airline is through another true metric.

Co2 is measured as a per passenger kilometre emission.

If you have 200 passengers on a plane that travelled 1,000 kilometres, that journey would amount to 200,000 passenger kilometres. Dividing the total emissions for that journey by the number of passenger kilometres will give you CO2 emitted per passenger kilometre.

And that’s what gives RyanAir the title to its claim, as it manages to get that figure to 67 grams, considerably lower than its rivals.

So what it really means is that while the airline is actually increasing its emissions by quite a large amount year on year, in line with most airlines it has to be said, it’s emissions per person are the lowest.

Take that to its ultimate and what it means is the more aircraft you have and fly full, the lower your Co2 per passenger will be. When in fact, your emissions are rising at a still unsustainable rate.

It’s this type of “greenwashing” that incenses the Extinction Rebellion protestors and why they have so many people from so many different backgrounds willing to join them. It’s what gets school children protesting on Fridays and why European airlines are seeing drops as steep as 5-15% in bookings over school holidays, as children pressure their parents not to fly.

RyanAir has never especially cared about its advertising standards. It pushes the rules and would rather get the advert out there and be told to stop it than stick to the guidelines – it’s like the Trump of aviation, it doesn’t care about rules or standards until it’s given no choice and even then it’ll appeal and try and make dodgy ideals and behaviour normal.