Image shows two adverts for Luton airport. One in a London tube station and another seen in a magazine.

Luton Airport’s ads want you to think it can “grow green” – join a mass greenwash complaint

“Green” isn’t what you might associate with an airport wanting to grow its operations from 18 million passengers to a massive 32 million passengers per year.

But Luton Airport, which goes by the trading name Luton Rising, is spending big-time on adverts on facebook, billboard and print adverts to promote its “unique” “green” growth plans, including on posters in London Victoria tube station and in the New Statesman, in the run up to a critical decision on the airport’s expansion in May 2024.

As an international week of action against airline advertising kicks off across Europe, Adfree Cities has teamed up with Badvertising, climate charity Possible and national campaign group No Airport Expansion to report Luton Rising’s bogus green adverts to the UK advertising watchdog.

Why are we reporting Luton Airport’s ads?

The ads, by Hope advertising agency, present Luton Airport’s activities as ‘green’, and paint a picture of the highest environmental standards for its expansion.

But the ads do not include any information about these substantial negative climate impacts of the airport’s proposed expansion – a massive project that will add an estimated 70,000 more flights per year by 2043, creating noise, carbon emissions, NOx pollutants and high-altitude contrails.

The ads promote “environmental limits” set in its “Green Controlled Growth Framework” – but this Framework does not include emissions from flights, which make up more than 80% of the airport’s current climate impacts.

Unfairly influencing political decision-making?

The UK government will make its decision on Luton Airport’s expansion in the upcoming months, with a key recommendation from the Planning Inspectorate expected on 10th May 2024. Given the political timing and potential influence of the ads, we’ve asked the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to suspend the adverts pending investigation.

Luton Rising adverts in the New Statesman magazine, March 2024

Can’t airport expansion be green?

No. Air transport has substantial negative impacts on the environment through emitting climate-warming carbon dioxide emissions, as well as other non-CO2 emissions like gases and water vapour that multiply the warming impacts of carbon from flying. With no current possibilities to decarbonise aviation at scale, the Climate Change Committee has said that to reduce the climate impacts of aviation, there can be no net airport expansion.

Join a mass complaint to the ad watchdog

We’ve calling on you to report Luton Airport’s greenwash ads to the ASA. Just personalise our template complaint and go to the ASA’s “Make A Complaint” webpage to lodge your reasons for objecting to the ads.

Last year, greenwash ads by oil company Equinor were eventually banned by the ASA – but not before they’d had a chance to influence policymakers in the run up to green-lighting Equinor’s massive new oil and gas field, Rosebank. We don’t want these ads to have the same effect for Luton’s climate-wrecking expansion plans.

Luton Rising adverts in London Victoria tube station, April 2024
Screenshot of a Luton Rising video advert on Facebook, March 204

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