Friday, 12 January 2007

Greenest airline in Europe:-)

Early candidate for the most audacious scientific claim of the year has to go to this Ryanair press release titled “Ryanair is Europe’s Greenest, Cleanest Airline”.

Surely there should be a prize for the person who can debunk the most egregious claims in this little gem of a press release? You’ll have to do a little thinking though because Newsnight were first out of the traps to counter a lot of the spin in their programme last night.

Newsnight got an expert to search around Ryanair’s website to show that far from having “delivered a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions” as they claim Ryanair’s CO2 emissions have approximately trebled over the same period! Ryanair had somewhat naively allowed a previous version of their press release into the public domain which showed that the original claim was they had delivered a “50% reduction in per passenger CO2 emissions” – a very different story and even these figures could not be backed up by Newsnight’s expert.

Aviation campaigner John Stewart of HACAN emailed me to point out that the claim that “the Stern Report has confirmed that aviation accounts for just 1.6% of global green house gas emissions” is also pure spin as Ryanair conveniently forget to mention that, because aircraft emit CO2 higher in the atmosphere, the greenhouse effects are 2-4 times greater. Stern says the true contribution of aviation to global warming is 3-6% and it is rising fast.

As to being the “greenest airline in Europe” - I get the feeling that this must be up there with “kindest dictator of the 20th century” in the annals of dubious accolades.
I hope writing negatively about Ryanair does not attract undue attention from them – they do have prior history in seeking to silence websites that dare to speak critically of their record. Do email in any further thoughts on Ryanair’s claims and I will update and maybe even produce an “honest” version of the press release.


Neil said...

If it wasn't so awful it would be hilarious.

A good general rule of thumb on Ryanair's environmental claims must be to take what Michael O'Leary says and believe the opposite.

Michael said...

Utterly bizarre - almost beyond parody!

It did get me thinking what the greenest airline might actually be and whether Ryanair had even some sort of claim (though the greenest airline is probably a bankrupt airline that no longer flies anywhere!).

Presumably Ryanair want us to ignore the fact that they are flying loads of more people on loads of more planes and emitting loads more CO2 (hey folks - we may be killing the planet but at least we're doing it gently). So they just want to measure who's flying most efficiently per passenger kilometer while completely ignoring how many passenger kilometers there are. But even given Ryanair's new aircraft and high load factors I would still have thought that an airline flying turboprops only would have a far stronger claim to having the lowest emission per passenger kilometer. Ryanair use jets even on ridiculously short journeys like Liverpool - Dublin. Surely that's far more damaging than competitors who at least use turboprops? Anyone know?