Lufthansa Group will offer "green fares" for optionally "more climate-friendly flying" by contributing to sustainable aviation fuels and to "high-quality climate protection projects", claiming to be "the world's first airline group" in doing so (cp. Lufthansa Group Press Release).
Critics and pessimists will automatically say that this is a form of greenwashing, making flying appear less harmful than it is.
But is such an environmentally friendly initiative by a significantly big and known company really senseless or even counterproductive? There are some reasons to applaud at least a little bit:
- A seriously acting huge company won't risk to sell hot air and potentially end up in a scandal and PR disaster. This, plus the famous "Deutsche Gründlichkeit" (German thoroughness), will very probably make sure that you'll get what you're paid for, i.e. that the promised positive "carbon offsetting" effects will be given.
- Even if (as to expect) only a small percentage of passengers will want to (or be able to afford to) use the "green fares", they still offer you as an individual the option to travel more responsibly. And optionally to talk about it. Instead of having a bad conscience for flying and being ashamed, when posting about your travels you can mention that you offsetted your indirectly caused carbon emissions.
- Yes, like with organic products, it's a bit unfair that some have to pay a much higher price for many paying a too low price. So certain minimum standards set by politics can seem fairer, but until politics react, it's better if companies and individuals do their best instead of doing nothing, no?
- Once an innovative, pioneering company (like in this case the Lufthansa Group) has shown what's possible, other companies and politicians will start to imitate it. Think about what revolutionary, "disruptive" companies like Apple (with its iPhone), Tesla (with its widely produced electric cars) or SpaceX (with its backlanding, reusable rockets that no one had thought possible) achieved.
Besides that, also politics and the airline industry more and more recognizes the necessity to further or maybe even completely reduce airline emissions. Not only because of altruistic resons, but also because in the end mostly innovative companies and countries are on the winning side (think of the "first mover advantage", for instance).
More info from trustworthy sources:
Financial Times: Airline passengers face higher fares under new EU emissions rules
Wikipedia: Environmental effects of aviation
Our World in Data: Climate change and flying: what share of global CO2 emissions come from aviation?
U.S. Department of Energy: Sustainable Aviation Fuels
Wikipedia: Carbon offset