The U.K.’s advertising watchdog, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), has banned advertisements from three airlines over misleading climate-related statements, or greenwashing.
The ASA this week said that ads on three airlines—Air France, Lufthansa, and Etihad—gave a misleading impression of their environmental impact. All ads were published online and claimed, in some capacity, that travelers were making an environmentally friendly choice by flying with that carrier.
The U.K.’s CAP Code that governs advertisements in the country includes a requirement that environmental claims, which the airlines were making, “must be supported by a high level of substantiation.”
The Air France ad, for instance, told consumers that “Air France is committed to protecting the environment” and that choosing Air France allowed consumers to “travel better and sustainably.”
“We therefore expected to see a high level of evidence which demonstrated how Air France was protecting the environment and making aviation sustainable,” the ASA wrote.
“We understood that air travel produced high levels of both CO2 and non-CO2 emissions, which were making a substantial contribution to climate change. We also understood that there were currently no initiatives or commercially viable technologies in operation within the aviation industry that would adequately substantiate absolute green claims, such as that Air France were ‘committed to protecting the environment’ and helped people ‘travel better and sustainably,’” it added.
Air France, for its part, said that the ad was generated by artificial intelligence based on keywords entered by a user and was removed once the ASA decision was announced.
The Etihad ad had a similar sentiment, stating that the airline’s guests can “Explore the World With Confidence and Total Peace Of Mind With Etihad Airways. Environmental Advocacy. Award-Winning Service.”
Etihad said it dropped the ad upon receiving the complaint and removed all references to “environmental advocacy” from its paid-for-Google search ads being delivered in the U.K.