Environmentalists in Guernsey have welcomed the airline Blue Islands taking a step towards carbon neutrality but worry that it could become an example of 'greenwashing'.
Greenwashing is marketing which makes industries or products appear more environmentally friendly than they are in practice. Internationally, airlines are often at the centre of debate about climate change commitments and greenwashing.
A joint investigation earlier this year found that carbon credits were often based on a flawed system and unreliable calculations.
Blue Islands this week added £1 to the cost of every flight and will donate the additional revenue to a rewilding initiative launched by Durrell in Jersey.
“It’s tricky because on the one hand it’s really good for the charity as a way of raising funds to do what is obviously quite important work," said Pierre Ehmann, a local campaigner on environmental issues who was only 142 votes away from being elected to the States at last year's general election.
“But, on the other hand, the airline using it as some kind of public relations opportunity to tell everyone that they’ve balanced their carbon emissions is quite wrong.
“In the last few months, quite a few airlines have announced they’re carbon neutral through various offsetting schemes.
"There’s a lot of negativity around carbon intensive industry and they’re trying to do whatever they can to get some good public relations."
Pictured: Pierre Ehmann welcomed Blue Islands' commitment to invest in important charitable work but cautioned that carbon offsetting should not conceal the damage to the environment caused by some industrial sectors.
Jack Fletcher of Renew Guernsey, a local solar energy company, also raised concerns about the initiative.
“The issue with Blue Islands' carbon offsetting program is it doesn't work in the way we would all like to think it does," said Mr Fletcher.
"It doesn't undo the harm of emissions being injected into the atmosphere. Planting trees on the other side of the planet makes no difference to the carbon coming out of a plane.
“So let's focus on decarbonising air travel for good, not offsetting it.”
Pictured: Jack Fletcher commended Blue Islands' plans to become more sustainable and hoped they would soon explain the next steps on that journey.
“I see flying as a necessary part of the 21st Century and absolutely necessary for islands to connect to the rest of the world," said Mr Fletcher.
"However, the science is very, very clear: we need to cut emissions dramatically and air travel now needs a solid, cohesive plan to decarbonise.
“I welcome Blue Islands' announcement that they are looking at a long-term goal of fully replacing the technology it uses. Their plan to decarbonise is exciting to hear and islanders would be thrilled to hear more about this and how they plan to do it.
“Harrison Aviation are bubbling away at working towards 100% green hydrogen flying for the Channel Islands. This must be given the support it needs because this first step will be the beginning of profound changes the air travel industry so needs.”
Once your comment has been submitted, it won’t appear immediately. There is no need to submit it more than once. Comments are published at the discretion of Bailiwick Publishing, and will include your username.