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Lufthansa aircraft: Sustainability via CO₂ compensation?

Photo: Sven Hoppe / dpa

The UK's Advertising Standards Authority has banned Lufthansa advertising for sustainable flying in the country. The ad gives a misleading impression of the company's environmental friendliness, it said in a statement on the case.

The slogan "Fly more sustainably", which had appeared in ads via Google in July, was objected to. It is true that the advertised "Green Fares" option reduces part of the environmental impact of travel with the airline, it said. According to Lufthansa, 20 percent of CO₂ emissions would be saved by more sustainable fuels and 80 percent of CO₂ emissions would be offset by money flowing into climate protection projects.

However, the regulator came to the conclusion that the basis for the claim "flying more sustainably" had not been clearly set out in the notification. According to the report, consumers would understand the slogan "to mean that Lufthansa offers a way of travelling by air that has a lower environmental impact than alternative airlines".

Lufthansa no longer wants to use slogan

However, it is not clear from the advertisement how this works in practice. This essential information was missing. But it is necessary "in order to make an informed decision". Therefore, the slogan violated the regulations of the advertising supervisory authority.

Lufthansa, on the other hand, invoked the brevity of Google's ads, which had left little room for manoeuvre. According to the British news agency PA, the company also announced that it would no longer use the slogan for future advertising.

Similar ads by Air France and Etihad, which also appeared on Google in the UK in July, were banned on the same grounds. In the EU, too, consumer advocates accuse airlines of making false sustainability promises.

The EU now also wants to take stronger action against so-called greenwashing. Advertising messages such as "environmentally friendly", "climate-neutral" or "biodegradable" are to be banned in the future – unless there is evidence for this. Read here how to debunk simple greenwashing.