Ryanair has the honor of being the first airline to make the European Union's list — but it probably won't be the last.
Ryanair Holdings Plc was one of the 10 biggest polluters in Europe last year, a first for a company that doesn’t run coal-fired power plants.
That’s the conclusion of analysis of European Union carbon emissions data undertaken by Transport & Environment, a Brussels-based research group. The group found Ryanair’s carbon dioxide emissions rose 6.9 percent last year.
The findings underscore the airline industry’s rising contribution to the greenhouse gases blamed for damaging the atmosphere. Pollution from airlines has risen by about two-thirds since 2005 and is forecast to keep rising as flying becomes more affordable. That puts the industry on course to become the single-biggest emitter within three decades.
Other industries are managing to cut their output of harmful substances. Last year, the EU Emissions Trading System recorded an 3.8 percent reduction in greenhouse gases. Nations from Germany to the U.K. are phasing out coal plants to curb emissions.
Ryanair was ninth on the list of top polluters in Europe. The remaining slots in the top 10 were taken by utilities that generate electricity from coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel.
The International Civil Aviation Organization recently moved to address aviation emissions by adopting self-policing guidelines. Those call for offsetting any carbon increases by planting trees or investing in cleaner technologies. Critics of the plan said offsets have already been tried and don’t work, in part because they’re hard to police.
EU emissions covered by the region’s carbon market resumed a decline last year after rising slightly in 2017, according to preliminary data.
Ryanair officials couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
–With assistance from Lucca de Paoli.
©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Photo credit: Ryanair plane through the windows of an airport. The Irish discount carrier was one of the 10 biggest emitters of carbon in Europe last year. Chris Ratcliffe / Bloomberg