26 May 2020, 12:38
David Reay

Lufthansa rescue deal must set example for green recovery conditions – opinion

Clean Energy Wire / ZDF

Taxpayers should demand that the 9 billion euro government rescue package for Germany’s national airline Lufthansa be tied to greener business practices, writes Volker Angres for public broadcaster ZDF. Climate protection is good for business, and compelling a major aviation player like Lufthansa to adopt environmentally friendly measures would make it a model for the wider industry, he says. Such measures could include increasing the share  of climate-neutral kerosene the company uses to 25 percent by 2025. The rescue deal and coronavirus crisis present a perfect opportunity for changing aviation, Angres concludes.

The government rescue package, which includes loans worth 3 billion euros and a 20 percent stake in the airline, has been controversial and attracted criticism from opposition parties and environmental groups after its announcement on 25 May. The Left Party described it as a “bad joke”, while the climate organisation Am Boden bleiben (Stay down to earth) said: "When it comes to an industry that has refused to protect the climate for decades and whose business model is based on the most climate-damaging means of transport of all, it is clear once again that the German government's commitment to climate protection is nothing more than empty words."

Lufthansa is financially healthy and made a profit of 1.2 billion euros last year, although the coronavirus crisis is estimated to be costing it 1 million euros an hour. The government says that the existential risk to the country's largest airline threatens thousands of jobs and the loss of a valuable strategic asset. But despite pressure to link economic aid to environmental conditions, the deal contains no climate guarantees other than Lufthansa being “committed to pursuing sustainability goals”. 

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