Europe's aviation safety agency is planning an eco ranking for flights

The goal is to avoid "greenwashing" so consumers can make sustainable decisions.

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When I take a train in Europe, the ticket shows exactly how much carbon I'll be responsible for putting into the atmosphere (3.8 kilograms on my usual route). Now, the EU's Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) plans to create similar eco-ranking labels for the airline industry, according to a report from Germany's Welt am Sonntag. The idea is to provide "reliable, comparable and verifiable information," so passengers can make sustainable flying decisions.

The EU is reportedly trying to counterbalance potential "greenwashing" from airlines who may promote exaggerated claims of flights being eco-friendly. Aviation adds 3.5 percent of the pollution responsible for global warming, according to a recent international study. Two thirds of that is due to contrails, NOx, water vapor, sulfate aerosol gases, soot, and other aerosols, while the rest comes from CO2 emissions.

EASA reportedly plans to use high-speed trains as a benchmark for consumer labels. The safety agency will differentiate between difference classes of aircraft, including regional, larger planes with central aisles, super heavies like the Airbus A380 and even future air taxis. The classifications will take into account many different components including bio-fuel use, recycling rates, waste generated and, in the near term, carbon offset trading.

While air traffic has fallen by 60 to 80 percent due to the COVID-19 crisis, the industry expects it to rebound to pre-pandemic figures by 2025, and grow further beyond that. The project is part of a plan to make the EU carbon-neutral by 2050 as part of the European Green Deal. EASA has only just put the development of an eco-label out for tender, with plans to have the technical details locked down by 2022. However, there's no word yet on when passengers will actually see those labels.