Press Release

Polluting planes and ships get green investment label from EU

April 06, 2023

Update to EU Taxonomy could see green funds being funnelled into big polluters like Airbus, Ryanair, MSC and Carnival Cruises

Planes and ships that run on fossil fuels could  be given ‘green’ investment status as the EU Commission today published its updated list of sustainable investments. T&E has called the decision to include polluting aviation and maritime activities the ‘nail in the coffin’ of the EU’s Taxonomy.

Investments in more ‘efficient’ planes and ships would  now be considered green, regardless of whether they still run on fossil fuels. Millions of euros could  therefore be channelled towards some of Europe’s biggest polluters like Airbus, Ryanair and MSC.

Faig Abbasov, shipping director at T&E, said: “The inclusion of polluting planes and ships is the nail in the coffin of the EU’s Taxonomy. If planes running on oil and ships running on gas are now considered sustainable, there is little hope for the Taxonomy. Europe’s lawmakers must vote down this measure and save what’s left of it.”

The aviation industry pushed to have new ‘efficient’ aircraft powered by fossil jet fuel classified as a green investment. Under the EU’s Taxonomy more than 90% of Airbus’ order book could be considered green, while nearly a third of low-cost giant Ryanair’s future fleet would pass the threshold. 

The update to the Taxonomy also provides a loophole for LNG-powered container and cruise ships. On paper, LNG-powered ships emit less CO2 than traditional shipping fuels, hence their inclusion in the Taxonomy. However, the EU’s criteria ignore methane slips and downstream emissions from LNG, which often make them worse for the climate than the traditional fuels they replace. This provides no incentive for shipping giants such as MSC and Carnival Cruises to invest in green shipping fuels as they will continue to benefit from green financing for ships fully powered by fossil fuels [1].

The Delegated Act is now open for feedback for a period of four weeks. 

[1] Further T&E analysis will follow.