UN’s €2 greenwash flights

The environmental cost of aviation has long been an issue, and the UN aviation agency ICAO has uses offsetting as its key mechanism to decarbonise aviation, but the reality is that this gains little from a long-haul flight, new data by Transport & Environment (T&E) finds.

For example, the analysis by T&E shows that on a flight from Europe to the US, on average passengers would have to pay as little as €2.40 to offset their carbon emissions in 2030. On a flight to the Middle East, the added cost per passenger would be €1.40; to China, a mere €3.50.

The total cost for all airlines operating flights from the European Economic Area (EEA) to the US to offset their emissions under the UN scheme CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation) are expected to be €118m in 2030, representing only 0.4 per cent of their total operating costs in 2030. For those carriers operating flights from the EEA to the Middle East, purchasing offsets would cost €40.3m in 2030 - a figure representing just 0.3 per cent of total operating costs.

Jo Dardenne, aviation director at T&E, summed up the situation as “climate fraud” and branded the idea of paying €2 to fly ‘guilt-free’ to New York is a “climate absurdity”.

T&E believes that the EU mechanism of carbon market for aviation (EU ETS), could be the example to follow, but currently it only apples for intra-EEA flights, if applied to EEA-US flights, the average added cost per passenger in 2030 would be €48.10 and €69.50 for a flight to China. For carriers operating the flights to those regions, just over 7 per cent of operating costs would be needed for the purchase of carbon permits.

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