UK slams Lufthansa ad over 'misleading' green claims

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The Advertising Standards Authority says Lufthansa made misleading environmental claims in an advert last year.
The Advertising Standards Authority says Lufthansa made misleading environmental claims in an advert last year.
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  • A UK watchdog has hit out at Lufthansa for a poster advertisement, which it said made "misleading" environmental claims.
  • Lufthansa has expressed regret that its poster advert campaign "could have given a misleading impression."
  • Air travel produced high levels of carbon dioxide, and non-CO2 emissions also made a substantial contribution to climate change.
  • For climate change news and analysis, go to News24 Climate Future.

A UK watchdog hit out Wednesday at Lufthansa for a poster advertisement which it said made "misleading" environmental claims about the German airline "protecting" the planet.

The ad, which ran last June, featured an aircraft with the underside replaced by an image of the Earth, alongside the slogan "Lufthansa Group. Connecting the world. Protecting its future."

"We considered the claim was likely to be understood by consumers to mean that Lufthansa had already taken significant mitigating steps to ensure that the net environmental impact of their business was not harmful," the Advertising Standards Authority said in a statement, asking it to make clear the basis for any future claims.

READ | EU agrees law to make airlines pay more to pollute

Air travel produced "high levels" of both carbon dioxide and non-CO2 emissions that made a "substantial" contribution to climate change, the regulator said, adding many of Lufthansa's initiatives would deliver results only after years or decades.

Approached by AFP, Lufthansa expressed regret that its poster advert campaign "could have given a misleading impression".

It argued that the ad's purpose was to make consumers aware of how the airline was addressing the need to reduce the impact of flying on the environment.

But the ASA insisted that the carrier could not substantiate what it described as the poster's "absolute green" claim.

"We... understood that there were currently no environmental initiatives or commercially viable technologies in the aviation industry which would substantiate the absolute green claim, 'Protecting its future', as we considered consumers would interpret it.

"We concluded that, because the basis of the claim had not been made clear and it had not been adequately substantiated, the ad breached the (ASA) code.

It said it told Lufthansa that the basis of future environmental claims was made clear and did not give a misleading impression of the impact caused by travelling with the airline.

Lufthansa, which is targeting carbon neutrality by 2050, has forecast it will halve CO2 emissions by 2030 compared to 2019.

Major companies are frequently accused of "greenwashing" by environmentalists, who call out corporate efforts to promote often spurious environmental measures to boost their reputation.

In a recent development in Ireland, consumer protection authorities are probing Tesco over herbal teabags the UK supermarket giant claimed were "biodegradable".

A team of researchers from University College Cork filed a complaint last month after finding the teabags were intact after being buried in soil for one year.

Tesco however stated that the teabags were instead designed for "industrial composting" via local authorities' food bin collections.

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