KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has an unusual message for its customers: maybe not take this flight.
In an open letter from CEO Pieter Elbers on June 29, the airline urged air travelers to "make responsible decisions to fly" and encouraged customers to invest in the airline's carbon offset system, CO2ZERO.
We are there. We work hard to get things right, but all those involved need to join forces to create a sustainable future. All stakeholders in the aviation industry, all companies in every industry. And yes, also all air travelers. What else can you do to carefully review your travel plans?
According to the International Council on Clean Transportation (pdf), KLM is already one of the world's most fuel-efficient airlines his cabin layout. Airlines with more business and first-class seats, for example, have a greater carbon footprint relative to the number of people they can carry.
Green customers, especially in Europe, are increasingly relinquishing flying, which accounts for around 2.5% of global emissions. (Few personal actions are so damaging to the environment.) You can follow in the footsteps of environmental activists like Greta Thunberg: The Swedish teenager and activist travel only by train or bus and consider taking a cargo ship to participate in the UN Special Climate Change Meeting in New York in September.
At the same time, governments across Europe are demanding greater accountability from airlines: the French government has recently called on EU leaders to end the worldwide aviation tax on aviation fuel in order to reduce air travel and hence emissions. Legislators have already proposed to ban short domestic and international flights, which are often only slightly faster than high-speed trains.
Of course KLM does not plan to hang up the aviator goggles yet. "It's our business and we want to stay in business," it said in a statement after Elbers' letter. "We will accelerate progress towards a sustainable future, but we are a company that must make profits to survive and continue to invest in sustainable solutions. We still want to be there when we have succeeded in making aviation sustainable. "
Some Dutch politicians have dismissed the campaign as a simple greenwashing. Currently, the airline offers only a gentle encouragement to fly less, and has not imposed any more drastic solutions, eg. These include, for example, the obligation to compensate consumers for CO2 or to reduce short-distance routes.