Ryanair again ranked among Europe’s worst polluters

Airline included in top 10 of continent’s biggest carbon emitters

Ryanair was one of only two non-energy companies included in a list of Europe’s top 10 worst polluters, and the only airline. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

Ryanair was one of only two non-energy companies included in a list of Europe’s top 10 worst polluters, and the only airline. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

 

Ryanair was once again the only airline to be included in a list of Europe’s top 10 worst polluters.

According to data from the European Union’s Transport and Environment (T&E) group, updated to coincide with the United Nations climate talks in Madrid, Ryanair was one of only two non-energy companies on the list, and the only airline. The other was container shipping company MSC.

Despite claims by the airline that it is Europe’s “greenest”, the group said it was responsible for 9.9 million tonnes of CO2 emissions in 2018.

The nine carbon emitters above Ryanair in the list are all coal-fired power plants bar MSC, which appeared on the list for the first time.

When the airline was first included on the list back in April, it claimed that passengers travelling on Ryanair had the lowest CO2 emissions per kilometre travelled than any other airline.

However, Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary has in the past queried the science of climate change. In a 2017 interview with RTÉ’s Nationwide programme, he dismissed concerns about its impact as “complete and utter rubbish”.

However more recently he has changed tack, supporting the efforts to rein in the impact of climate change to two degrees temperature change by 2100.

The annual rankings focus on 11,000 power stations and manufacturing plants in the 28 EU member states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, as well as aviation activities in these states.

Shipping

Ships sailing to and from Europe emitted more than 139 million tonnes of CO2 last year – meaning that if shipping were a country it would be the EU’s eighth biggest emitter after the Netherlands, the group said.

It also noted that shipping was the only sector with no measures to reduce its emissions in the bloc and was exempt under EU law from paying tax on its fuel, an effective subsidy worth €24 billion a year.

“A company that consumers have never heard of has joined the top 10 polluters list in Europe,” Faig Abbasov, shipping manager at T&E, said.

“This industry doesn’t pay a cent for its carbon emissions and the EU has so far done nothing to curb its damage,” he said.

“European trade doesn’t have to be dirty just because EU leaders have neglected to clean up shipping,” he added.