European airlines ‘actively’ oppose climate policies, report shows

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A report prepared by an investor-led climate lobbying watchdog, InfluenceMap, indicated that European airlines with the largest disclosed carbon dioxide emissions were pushing against European aviation climate policies. The aviation industry efforts come as the European Commission readies to introduce a climate package in mid-July 2021.  

“Negative climate lobbying efforts appear to be led by Air France-KLM, International Airlines Group (IAG) (IAG), Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) and Ryanair,” read the report, which was published on June 10, 2021.

The study suggests that Air France-KLM, International Airlines Group (IAG) (IAG), Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA), and Ryanair are “actively” avoiding their full inclusion in the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), the European body which promotes net-zero emissions in the power sector, manufacturing industry, as well as the aviation industry. Adding to that, the research indicates that aforementioned airlines opposed the idea to impose kerosene fuel taxes as well as ticket taxes on flights, which would help to decrease carbon emissions within the aviation industry, according to InfluenceMap.

In addition to Air France-KLM, IAG, Ryanair, and Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA), the research paper covered other European airlines, including easyJet, Virgin Atlantic, TAP Air Portugal, Scandinavinian Airlines (SAS), Norwegian Air Shuttle, and Wizz Air. While easyJet, according to InfluenceMap, appeared to have a “more progressive” stance on EU climate policies, having included kerosene fuel taxes, other five airlines turned out to have “limited direct engagement with climate policy”.

“This report shows the hypocrisy of many in the airline industry: despite a clear acknowledgement that the unfolding climate crisis needs action through public support for the climate neutrality target in 2050, many airlines privately lobby against all of the measures needed to achieve this goal,” a member of European Parliament Curian Cuffe commented on the report.

In February 2021, aviation industry bodies such as Airlines For Europe (A4E) and Airbus announced their pledge to reach climate neutrality targets by 2050. However, while the industry is communicating high-level support to become net-zero, it is also “opposing specific national and EU-level climate regulations”, according to InfluenceMap research.

The largest European airline association representing 16 air carriers, Airlines for Europe (A4E) criticized the report. In a statement, A4E chairman Johan Lundgren noted that additional taxes during the worst aviation crisis would make flying even more inaccessible and expensive, adding that “they take money away from the sector which is needed for sustainability investments.”

“Let’s be perfectly clear, once again — taxes do not reduce CO2 emissions,” Lundgren added. “Governments should rather focus on helping our sector meet ambitious emissions reduction goals by championing financial and regulatory support for green technologies.”

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