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KLM sued over sustainability, CO2 emissions compensation claims

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Environmental organization Fossielvrij NL filed a lawsuit against KLM over the airline’s advertisements and claims about sustainable flying and compensation of CO2 emissions. According to the organization, KLM is misleading consumers by creating the impression that it is possible to fly without damaging the climate, NOS reports.

For years, KLM has been offering customers the option of offsetting the emissions of their flight by paying a small amount on top of the ticket price. The service is called CO2ZERO. That money goes into reforestation projects. The airline long touted this service as a chance to fly in a carbon-neutral way, saying that the extra amount can “neutralize” the carbon impact of the flight.

Earlier this year, the Advertising Code Committee reprimanded KLM for this because the airline could not substantiate its claims. KLM then added the text “the fastest way to reduce flight-related CO2 emissions is not to fly” to its ads and campaigns.

But according to Fossielvrij NL, KLM is still misleading consumers. The airline still says that reforestation can compensate for the CO2 emissions of a flight. And that is not a claim they can make. There is no way for KLM to guarantee the long-term effects of deforestation.

“The reality is that flying produces a huge amount of emissions, and the only way to reduce this is by shrinking aviation,” Hiske Arts of Fossielvrij NL said to NOS. “Fortunately, many people are starting to realize that aviation cannot continue to grow, but KLM is suppressing that growing awareness with its marketing.”

In response to the lawsuit, KLM said that its expressions comply with laws and regulations, especially after it adapted its texts. “KLM strives for transparent and honest communication about our sustainability approach. We have no interest in misinforming our customers.”

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