EU investment rules will greenwash 90% of Airbus’ polluting planes

(Transport and Environment, 17 Feb 2023) The European Commission is set to rubber stamp thousands of polluting aircraft as sustainable, under the EU taxonomy rules.

The EU taxonomy for sustainable investments could greenwash over 7,000 Airbus aircraft, new data by T&E finds. This represents over 90% of Airbus’ future aircraft orders. Planes qualify for the criteria if they meet weak fuel efficiency standards, even though they still rely almost exclusively on fossil fuels.

The European Commission is currently discussing criteria for aviation to be included in EU taxonomy rules. Under the draft criteria recommended in 2022 by the Platform on Sustainable Finance, traditional aircraft qualify as “best in class” if they are more efficient[1] than older generation aircraft. These aircraft then meet the EU Taxonomy’s criteria only if they are replacing, not expanding an airline’s fleet.

Even though more fuel efficient planes emit less, these emissions savings are only around 15-20%. Critically, this has not stopped CO2 emissions from the sector from growing exponentially in recent decades. CO2 emissions increased by 129% between 1990 and 2017 despite fuel efficiency of new aircraft improving by 18% over the same period.

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Transport and Environment, 17 Feb 2023: EU investment rules will greenwash 90% of Airbus’ polluting planes