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Eurowings is not allowed to advertise its flights as CO2-neutral

The compensation payments offered are not sufficient for Eurowings flights to be labelled CO2-neutral, confirms the Regional Court of Cologne

With this judgement, the Regional Court of Cologne has fully upheld a lawsuit brought by Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH). The court has thus prohibited the airline from advertising flights whose emissions are offset with a few euros as "CO2-neutral" in the form in which they were advertised at the time the lawsuit was filed (Ref.: 81 O 32/23). According to the court, the judgement was based on the fact that the forest protection projects, which were intended to offset the CO2 emissions of the flights, could not achieve this compensation at all due to their short duration.

Jürgen Resch, Federal Managing Director of DUH, commented: "An airline that promises its customers 'CO2-neutral' flights for a few euros more is acting in a highly misleading manner if it uses forest protection projects that are only secured for a few more years.

Eurowings uses a compensation calculator to offer its passengers the opportunity to make their flights supposedly "CO2-neutral" by making a small financial contribution to forest protection and cooking stove projects. However, these forest projects are not operated for the same length of time that the carbon dioxide emitted by the aircraft remains in the atmosphere.</p

Viele Unternehmen bewerben Produkte und Dienstleistungen als „klimaneutral“ oder gar „klimapositiv“. Die Argumentation stütz sich hierbei darauf, dass die eigene Klimabelastung dadurch ausgeglichen wird, dass andere, klimaschützende Projekte aus der eigenen Tasche oder der der eigenen Kundinnen und Kunden gefördert werden. Seit Frühjahr 2022 hat die DUH, die diese Praxis in großen Teilen als irreführende Werbung ansieht, über 40 juristische Verfahren gegen zahlreiche Unternehmen eingeleitet, so auch die Klage gegen Eurowings vor dem Kölner Landgericht.

European Union takes action against greenwashing

The EU also wants to take stronger action against "greenwashing". "Greenwashing" refers to the practice of falsely or at least exaggeratingly presenting a product or service as environmentally friendly. At the end of March, new EU consumer regulations came into force that prohibit companies from vaguely presenting themselves as "green" or "environmentally friendly" if they cannot prove this claim. In addition, a standardised label is to be introduced that provides information on the manufacturer's commercial guarantee of durability, which also includes a reference to statutory warranty law. The aim is to ensure that private individuals are better informed about their product and can therefore make their own decisions as to whether or not they wish to use the product. Member states are obliged to transpose the directive into national law by 27 March 2026.

This article is from the 3/2024 issue of the magazine "Life Abroad".

The magazine is published four times a year free of charge with many informative articles on foreign topics.

It is published by the BDAE, the expert for protection abroad.