The leaders of Ryanair and Airlines for Europe (A4E) have criticised the findings of a report released earlier this week that says the airline industry has been engaged in “anti-climate lobbying”.

“I don’t think we should give this report too much time or credibility,” says Ryanair group chief executive Michael O’Leary during A4E’s annual Aviation Summit today. “You’ll find more factual accuracy in a children’s comic than appeared in this rubbish yesterday,” he alleges.

Ryanair group chief executive Michael O'Leary

Source: APA PictureDesk GmbH/Shutterstock

Ryanair group chief executive Michael O’Leary

The report from UK-based think tank InfluenceMap claims that the airline sector is “lobbying against EU-level policies such as the sustainable aviation fuels blending mandate and the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), while also trying to weaken the international carbon offsetting scheme, CORSIA”.

At the same time, airlines have “initiated extensive, climate-focused PR campaigns to deflect growing concern from governments and the public over the sector’s climate footprint”, it alleges.

InfluenceMap says its findings are based on “nearly 800 evidence pieces as well as dozens of documents obtained by Freedom of Information requests”.

“Taken together, they shed new light on the extent of the aviation sector’s anti-climate lobbying targeting the EU and European governments,” it suggests.

But O’Leary says he can think of “no other industry that is investing as much on new technology… to exceed Europe’s climate goals”.

What airlines are opposed to, the Ryanair chief explains, is “certain European governments levying taxes under the guise of environmental taxes, [and] they then trouser the money, they penalise consumers and don’t spend it on the environment”.

He continues: “If you take the five founding members of A4E, we’re investing something in the order of… $40-50 billion in new-technology aircraft for delivery over the next decade, to significantly and substantially reduce our fuel consumption and our CO2 emissions and our noise emissions.”

The managing director of A4E, Thomas Reynaert, suggests that while the InfluenceMap report mentions the Destination 2050 plan for European aviation to reach net-zero carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2050 – which was unveiled earlier this year – its conclusions suggest “it clearly hasn’t read the report carefully”.

“It doesn’t really take into account that [Destination 2050] is a very serious, public report [and] roadmap to which all our CEOs have committed and remain committed,” Reynaert says.

“All stakeholders [have been] extremely positive about this Destination 2050 report… This is serious. We’ve gone public on this. There’s no way back, because we do recognise that we need to increase our efforts.”

Alongside Ryanair, the four other founding members of A4E are EasyJet, Air France-KLM, IAG and Lufthansa.