Europe’s largest airlines claim net zero future whilst lobbying to weaken EU’s climate laws

(Transport and Environment, 7 Apr 2022) New analysis by Transport & Environment (T&E) finds that the four legacy carriers - Air France, Lufthansa, Iberia and Aer Lingus - are working to water down EU’s climate plans for aviation, letting up to 72% of EU aviation emissions off the hook.

Despite publicly committing to net zero emissions by 2050, T&E’s analysis of corporate position papers finds that Europe’s biggest airlines have been lobbying decision makers to weaken the environmental ambition of the EU’s climate plans for aviation, such as its sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) proposal (ReFuelEU). These papers reveal major discrepancies between the airlines’ public commitments and their tenacious lobbying efforts.

The lobbying efforts are made directly by airlines or under the guise of front groups such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents the interests of legacy carriers such as Iberia and Aer Lingus (under the IAG group), Air France-KLM, and Lufthansa – all of which are the subject of T&E’s new analysis. The study finds clear signs that IATA and IAG’s positions have filtered through a number of amendments submitted by decision makers to the European Parliament. This analysis corroborates findings by InfluenceMap that found that negative climate lobbying efforts are led by the IATA and airlines, such as Air France-KLM and Lufthansa.

Jo Dardenne, aviation manager at T&E, says: “It’s no news that legacy carriers have enjoyed preferential treatment under EU climate measures. They make crowd-pleasing pledges of net-zero emissions, which is music to the ears of their investors and customers. But in the background, they send IAG and IATA to do their dirty work: lobby to weaken the EU’s climate package so they can continue to pollute for free.”

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Transport and Environment, 7 Apr 2022: Europe’s largest airlines claim net zero future whilst lobbying to weaken EU’s climate laws