Commission and national consumer protection authorities starts action against 20 airlines for misleading greenwashing practices

Following an alert from the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), the European Commission and EU consumer authorities (Network of Consumer Protection Cooperation (CPC) Authorities) sent letters to 20 airlines identifying several types of potentially misleading green claims and inviting them to bring their practices in line with EU consumer law, notably the Directive concerning unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices in the internal market, within 30 days.

The CPC network, led by the Belgian Directorate General for Economic Inspection, the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets, the Norwegian Consumer Authority and the Spanish Directorate General of Consumer Affairs, focused on claims made by airlines that the CO2 emissions caused by a flight could be offset by climate projects or through the use of sustainable fuels, to which the consumers could contribute by paying additional fees. The authorities are concerned that the identified practices can be considered as misleading actions/omissions, prohibited under Articles 5, 6 and 7 of the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive. On their part, the airlines are yet to clarify whether such claims can be substantiated based on sound scientific evidence.