For the First Time, an Airline is Among Europe’s Top 10 Carbon Polluters

Apr 2, 2019

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Ryanair, one of the largest low-cost carriers in the world, has just entered the top 10 in Europe for the most carbon emissions. It’s the first time a company that is not a coal plant enters the list.

According to Transport & Environment (T&E), a Belgian research group that conducted the study of carbon pollution data in Europe, carbon emissions by airlines have increased by 26.3 percent over the last five years. Ryanair’s carbon dioxide emissions increased by 6.9 percent in 2018, making the airline number 9 on the top 10 list of carbon polluters in Europe. All other culprits on the list were companies that operate coal-fueled power plants.

However, Ryanair is just one airline among many contributing to the increase in carbon emissions in the atmosphere. Carbon emissions from airlines in the European Union have grown by 4.9 percent last year; other sectors that participate in the EU’s Emissions Trading System — a form of the so-called “cap and trade” system to limit carbon emissions — have declined by 3.9 percent. Ryanair might have landed itself on the list above other airlines also because the data gathered by T&E only covered emissions of flights within Europe, ruling out the carbon footprint of any and all international flights. In many cases, T&E reported, airlines’ global emissions will be even higher.

Despite being the only airline to make the cut, Ryanair claims to be Europe’s most environmentally-friendly airline. The list compiled by T&E looks at total emissions — and because Ryanair has a huge fleet and flies mostly within the EU, it emits more CO2 in absolute terms than other airlines flying within the Union. Looking at specific emissions is a different story, and the airline noted as much.

“Ryanair is Europe’s greenest & cleanest airline,” a Ryanair spokesperson said in a statement to TPG. “Passengers traveling on Ryanair have the lowest CO2 emissions per km traveled than any other airline.” The Ireland-based airline also offers customers resources for carbon offsetting — a practice in which ar passengers donate money to climate-focused charities (for example, Ryanair offers to connect customers to First Climate, Renature Monchique, Native Woodland Trust and Irish Whale & Dolphin) to “offset” the carbon footprint left by the flight. 

Bloomberg reported that the International Civil Aviation Organization has recently made moves to address aviation-based carbon emissions. Efforts have included carbon-offsetting on the part of the airlines by planting trees or investing in cleaner technologies.

Featured image by Gerard Julien / Getty Images.

American Express® Green Card

WELCOME OFFER: 30,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $600

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: up to $100 annual CLEAR statement credit, up to $100 annual LoungeBuddy statement credit, 3x points on travel and transit, 3x points on restaurants worldwide

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 30,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on all eligible travel, from subway swipes and window seats to hotel stays and city tours.
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points at restaurants worldwide.
  • Receive up to $100 per year in statement credits when you use the American Express® Green Card to pay for your CLEAR® membership at select airports and stadiums across the U.S. and Permissible Biometric Scanning Technology terms: eye scanning, irises scanning and fingerprints scanning.
  • Use the American Express® Green Card to purchase lounge access through LoungeBuddy to any of the lounges in the LoungeBuddy network – no memberships, elite statuses, or first class tickets required. Earn up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year on your LoungeBuddy purchases.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $150 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
See Rates & Fees
Annual Fee
$150
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.