uses cookies to analyze how the website is used, and to improve the user experience. Read more about cookies

Ryanair clearer about CO2 compensation following ACM action

Airline company Ryanair communicates clearer about the CO2 compensation (carbon offset) scheme it offers consumers when booking tickets online. Ryanair has implemented three adjustments after the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) had informed Ryanair that its website might contain misleading sustainability claims regarding CO2 compensation. Ryanair has implemented these adjustments across Europe. ACM has informed the other European consumer authorities about this action.

Edwin van Houten, Director of ACM’s Consumer Department, explains: “Businesses must be honest and clear about the sustainability claims they make. Even with CO2-compensation schemes, flying remains a highly polluting way of traveling. Airlines may offer CO2 compensation schemes, but they cannot give the impression that CO2 compensation will make flying sustainable. We find it important that Ryanair has implemented changes to its website, and has made clear what CO2 compensation entails.”

What was this case about?

Claims regarding CO2 compensation must be correct, clear, and complete. It must be clear to consumers how CO2 is offset, how much CO2 is compensated, how this is calculated, and whether it has been independently certified. ACM enforces compliance with these rules. ACM has conducted an investigation into ‘CO2 compensation claims’ in the airline industry. One of its findings was that Ryanair used claims such as ‘Fly greener to […]’ (in Dutch: ‘vlieg groener naar [..]’). That claim could give the impression that consumers could also fly ‘greener’ with Ryanair. ACM confronted Ryanair with these potentially misleading sustainability claims. Ryanair subsequently cooperated with ACM, and has implemented changes to the claims on its website in order prevent any possibly misleading practices.

What changes were made to the website?

Ryanair has implemented three changes to the CO2-compensation option in the online sales process for airline tickets:

  • Adding a clear message that CO2 compensation does not make flying itself more sustainable. Messages such as ‘Fly greener to […]’ have been changed to factual messages such as ‘compensate your estimated CO2 emissions’. In addition, icons such as green leaves have been removed.
  • Displaying the calculation and amount of CO2 that is compensated.
  • Providing additional clarity about the projects on which the CO2 compensation is spent, and highlighting respective projects’ independent certification.

ACM and sustainability

ACM ensures that markets work for people and businesses, now and in the future. Sustainable products and consumption are essential for a future-ready society. With its oversight over sustainability claims, ACM plays its part in that process. Consumers must be able to make sustainable choices with confidence. A previous ACM survey revealed that consumers do not understand carbon-offset claims. ACM has also confronted businesses in the clothing and energy sectors with their sustainability claims.

Consumers are not the only ones that need to be protected against misleading claims. Businesses that undertake sustainability efforts must be protected against businesses that compete unfairly by using misleading claims. That is why ACM drew up the Guidelines regarding Sustainability Claims.