Greenwashing airline adverts banned by ASA for ‘misleading’ claims

Airline adverts from from Air France, Lufthansa and Etihad have been banned by The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)  for greenwashing and misleading consumers about their impact.

The environmental and sustainability claims made by the adverts could not be substantiated by the airlines, leading the ASA to rule that the claims were “misleading” and did not show the impact airlines have on climate change.

The regulator also posited that air travel produces high levels of both CO2 and non-CO2 emissions, making a significant contribution to climate change.

The Lufthansa advert banned for greenwashing urged passengers to use the airline in order to “fly more sustainably”. It argued that the phrase was a reference to its green fares option which would reduce 20% of flight-related emissions by using sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) and offsetting.

The airline also said that the technical limits of the Google Callouts platform on which the adverts appeared meant that only very limited information could be included in such an advert.

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However, as part of the greenwashing ruling, the ASA ruled that consumers would understand “fly more sustainably” to mean that Lufthansa offered a way to travel by air that had a lower impact on the environment.

The regulator agreed that the use of SAF might help reduce the environmental impact of flying, but held that the basis for the claim “fly more sustainably” had not been fully made clear in the advert.

Lufthansa said it aimed to be carbon-neutral by 2050 and will be removing “fly more sustainably” from future ads.

The Etihad Airways advert used the phrase “environmental advocacy”. It removed the phrase from its adverts after receiving the complaint, but said sustainability was a “key priority”.

The regulator also held that claims that the airline allowed consumers to explore the world with “total peace of mind” would be understood by consumers to mean that the airline would work to protect the environment.

While the Air France advert said the company was “committed to protecting the environment” and helped people “travel better and more sustainably”, it did not provide a “substantive response” to the ASA investigations.

The EU recently unveiled legislation which will ban carbon neutral claims as it aims to protect consumers against greenwashing.

Climate crisisNet zeroNewsTransport

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