The Dutch flag carrier KLM has been served a lawsuit by climate activists during the annual shareholders meeting of the Air France-KLM Group over allegations that the airline is misleading consumers by claiming they can “fly responsibly” by paying to offset carbon emissions.
“There is no such thing as sustainable flying,” slammed Hiske Arts, a campaigner at Dutch climate campaign group Fossielvrij NL. The foundation bills itself as a ‘fossil-free citizen movement’.
“Flying is one of the fastest ways to heat the earth, and the solutions KLM offers are unable to prevent this. KLM’s marketing misleads travelers and distracts from the urgent need to reduce air traffic,” Arts continued.
Central to the lawsuit brought by Fossielvrij NL is KLM’s ‘Fly Responsbily’ campaign which gives passengers the opportunity to buy carbon offsets or contribute towards sustainable aviation fuel.
“hey wrongly give the impression that customers can fly with KLM without exacerbating the climate crisis. Fossielvrij NL demands that KLM stop with these commercials and that the company tells the honest story about both the climate-disrupting consequences of flying and the need to downsize aviation,” the group said on Tuesday.
The Air France-KLM group has committed to achieving carbon net zero by 2050 in line with an industry-wide target set by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
KLM introduced its ‘Fly Responsibly’ campaign in 2019 with the introduction of more efficient aircraft and investment in sustainable aviation fuels acting as the cornerstone of the initiative.
Passengers are also encouraged to contribute through a ‘CO2ZERO’ programme. Dutch advertising regulators ordered KLM to change the wording of some of its CO2ZERO ads because they suggested passengers could ‘neutralize’ their carbon contributions by paying into the scheme.
The lawsuit is being brought by Fossielvrij NL alongside ClientEarth who is providing legal experts. A third partner in the legal action is Advertising Fossielvrij, which is a group calling for an EU-wide ban on ‘fossil advertising’ – which would include a ban on airlines promoting their services because they use fossil fuels to power their aircraft.
The activists have likened their proposed fossil advertising ban to similar tobacco advertising bans.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.