‘Ryanair is the new coal’: airline enters EU’s top 10 emitters list

(The Guardian, 1 Apr 2019) Irish firm joins nine coal plants on list, with carbon emissions up nearly 50% in last five years.

Ryanair has become the first non-coal company to join Europe’s top 10 carbon emitters, according to EU figures.

The Irish airline, which transports 130 million people a year, declared 9.9 megatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in 2018, up 6.9% on last year and 49% over the last five years, according to data in the EU’s latest emissions trading system registry.

Andrew Murphy, the aviation manager at the European Federation for Transport and Environment, said: “When it comes to climate, Ryanair is the new coal. This trend will only continue until Europe realises that this undertaxed and under-regulated sector needs to be brought into line, starting with a tax on kerosene and the introduction of mandates that force airlines to switch to zero-emission jet fuel.”

Ryanair’s chief executive, Michael O’Leary, dismissed climate change concerns as “complete and utter rubbish” in an interview two years ago. His airline is now ranked as Europe’s 10th worst emitter, after nine coal plants. Poland’s Bełchatów is the worst polluter, producing 38 megatonnes of planet-warming emissions annually.

Coal emissions are falling, though, as Europe’s transition to cleaner energy continues. In stark contrast, emissions from airlines, which are exempted from fuel taxes and VAT on tickets, have soared by 26.3% since 2014, outpacing all other transport sectors.

Ryanair did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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The Guardian, 1 Apr 2019: ‘Ryanair is the new coal’: airline enters EU’s top 10 emitters list