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Greenwashing and aviation

Updated: Jul 12, 2022

Lots of industries are climbing on the global warming bandwagon in order to look good to consumers. Aviation is no exception in the "greenwashing" game

More and more airports, especially those pushing forward with plans for expansion, present themselves as ‘carbon-neutral’. However, this carbon-neutral‘ label only covers the on-ground operations of the airport and does not include the core business of the airport—the flights, which make up about 95% of emissions.

For example, flights to and from Heathrow are the largest single source of CO2 emissions in the UK, so stating that Heathrow Airport will be carbon neutral is diverting attention from the problem. Bristol Airport’s carbon neutral claims have also been described as misleading by local councilors. Still, at many airports, the claim of ‘carbon neutrality’ legitimises expansion plans: for example, in Austria, a court blocked the construction of a third runway at the Vienna airport in 2017 because it would go against the country’s commitments to the Paris Agreement. A few months later, the decision was ruled “unconstitutional”, and in 2018, the Federal Administrative Court permitted the expansion of the airport with the requirement that the airport must become ‘carbon neutral’.


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