A poster for Lufthansa declaring that the airline is “protecting” the planet has been banned in the UK.
The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority investigated the German airline for giving a “misleading” impression of the environmental impact of flying.
The advert - which featured a picture of a plane overlaid on an image of the Earth - boasted the strap line #MakeChangeFly.
“Connecting the world. Protecting its future,” the poster read.
In a ruling handed down today, the ASA concluded that the advert misrepresents the airline’s carbon footprint.
How bad is flying for the planet?
Flying is a huge contributor to global carbon emissions.
An economy class return flight from London to New York emits around 1.48 tonnes of CO2 per passenger, according to Flightemissionmap’s reputable carbon calculator. This is more than double the average person in Ghana produces in a whole year.
The ‘flight shame’ movement has swelled in recent years, with thousands of people eschewing planes on account of their environmental impact.
As this movement grows, airlines have continued to pour millions into touting their green credentials.
How did Lufthansa defend their advert?
Lufthansa defended the advert to the ASA, pointing out it contained a link to more detailed information on their website and denying that it misled consumers.
They claimed that the tagline was “open to interpretation” and wouldn’t be interpreted as an “absolute promise” by would-be customers.
Indeed, the airline insisted that contrasting half a plane with half a globe could “present the tagline as a potential dichotomy,” weighing up the challenges of protecting the planet while running an airline.
The ASA disagreed, and ruled that consumers would interpret it as an environmental pledge.
“We considered the claim was likely to be understood by consumers to mean that Lufthansa had already taken significant mitigating steps to ensure that the net environmental impact of their business was not harmful,” a statement from the ASA read.
“There [are] currently no environmental initiatives or commercially viable technologies in the aviation industry which would substantiate the absolute green claim “protecting its future”, as we considered consumers would interpret it.”
What is Lufthansa doing to address their carbon impact?
Lufthansa has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2050, and is investing in carbon offset schemes and sustainable aviation fuel. They recently launched a ‘green fares’ option which promises “climate friendly flying”.
However, these schemes do not justify claims to be “protecting the planet,” the ASA ruled.
“We noted the initiatives and targets Lufthansa said they were committed to delivering in pursuit of their stated goal, but many of these initiatives were targeted to deliver results only years or decades into the future,” they said.