Lufthansa shareholders want airline to present more effective climate strategy
Frankfurter Rundschau / ARD
Major shareholders of Germany’s largest airline Lufthansa have criticised the company’s management for failing to introduce a credible strategy that outlines how the carrier will master the shift to climate-neutral aviation, newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau reported. At Lufthansa’s annual meeting, investment companies like Deka or Union Investment voiced their objections to the management decisions by Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr. The company head said the airline is currently modernising its fleet with more efficient planes, is running trials with alternative fuels, and is expanding carbon-offset programmes for customers. However, the airline does not plan to make CO2-compensation schemes compulsory for its customers, as a globally agreed standard would be necessary to avoid losing competitiveness. “We trust in the principle of voluntary participation and with increasing success,” public broadcaster ARD quoted Spohr as saying. The measures should enable Lufthansa to halve its emissions by 2030 and become completely CO2 neutral by the middle of the century, Spohr said. Union Investment’s Henrik Pontzen said modernising the fleet while the company is still reeling from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic will be a challenge, while Deka’s Ingo Speich argued the company should take a more “active” approach to counter the challenges posed by the climate crisis. Environmental NGO Robin Wood said the only way for the aviation industry to reduce its climate impact would be opting for degrowth. “Only planes that stay grounded are green planes,” the NGO’s Jonas Asan argued.
While aviation accounts for only a small share of Germany's total emissions, it is one of the fastest-growing sources and global passenger numbers are projected to grow rapidly over the next years. Due to the sudden collapse of air traffic during the pandemic, Lufthansa had received state bailouts to keep the company afloat, which had led to calls for making the credits conditional on far-reaching decarbonisation measures.