Lufthansa advertises that guests can offset the emissions from flights. Environmental aid sees this as greenwashing and is taking it to court.

The German Environmental Aid (DUH) has sued Lufthansa because of what it sees as a misleading CO2 neutrality promise. DUH Federal Managing Director Jürgen Resch accused the company of “brazen consumer deception” and “greenwashing” in Berlin on Saturday. In the compensation model offered by the airline, only a fraction of the climate impacts of air traffic are taken into account and unsuitable compensation projects are also used.

The background to this is Lufthansa's advertising, according to which passengers could fully offset the CO2 emissions caused by their flights by contributing to compensation projects – for example by investing in forest protection or more environmentally friendly cooking stoves in developing countries. According to DUH, this wrongly gives the impression that the flights will no longer have any harmful effects on the climate.

“Air travel remains the most climate-damaging form of travel”

“Air travel remains the most climate-damaging form of travel,” explained Resch. However, Lufthansa claims that with little money the entire emissions of a flight can be offset. “That is simply wrong and will not change in the near future.”

Offers for offsetting the climate effect of CO2 emissions through flights or other trips or events are also available from independent providers such as Atmosfair or myclimate. According to DUH, the compensation calculator used by myclimate is also used by Lufthansa, but in a modified form. While myclimate also includes climate impacts beyond CO2 emissions in its online offering, the airline does not do this. Therefore, the compensation amounts to be paid at Lufthansa are much lower.

Lufthansa advertises compensation on board

Atmosfair also points out on its homepage that voluntary compensation could reduce the climate-damaging effect of air travel – but in any case it is better to avoid CO2 emissions and other adverse climate effects from the outset.

Lufthansa writes in its advertising: “Lufthansa passengers can offset the CO2 emissions of their flight directly on board.” This offer “underlines Lufthansa’s clear strategy to lead aviation into a more sustainable future.” According to the company, in addition to the compensation projects, payments for “sustainable aviation fuel made from biogenic residues” are also possible.


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