Delta Under Fire For Carbon Offset ‘Green’ Marketing Strategy


Delta Air Lines is facing a California lawsuit over its $1 billion claim of carbon neutrality. Plaintiffs maintain that the carbon “offsets” Delta pays for don’t do enough to mitigate global warming, and the airline is unfairly profiting from its claims.

In 2020, Delta announced it would invest $1 billion to achieve carbon neutral status within the following decade. The offsets purchased by Delta allegedly amount to “credits” for sponsoring initiatives to conserve rainforest, wetlands and grasslands as well as reduce fuel consumption by design improvements in propulsion and aerodynamics. But the California lawsuit claims that Delta is unfairly claiming to be “the world’s first carbon-neutral airline.”

The lawsuit plaintiffs maintain the claims are “demonstrably false” based on “junk offsets” that do little to mitigate greenhouse gasses. The suit further asserts that Delta is profiting by the claims, since customers are buying tickets from Delta—as opposed to competitors—based on the airline’s publicly asserted claims of carbon neutrality in LinkedIn posts, advertisements and on on-board napkins.

Plaintiff attorney Jonathan Haderlein said, “This is more than a climate-change case. This is also a business case. People are paying more for these greener products. If a company like Delta is raking that premium in by claiming they do it first and then doing a huge advertising blitz to try to get people flying again, we think that’s unfair to other companies that are buying higher-quality offsets or doing far better sustainability. And frankly, unfair to consumers.”

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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  1. Ah, what a challenge to determine who’s smoke and mirrors are real smoke and mirrors.

  2. Glad to have lived in an era when we were able to enjoy high performance vehicles and aircraft.

    Agree—“carbon offsets “ are merely “feel-good virtue signaling”. The @sicial warriors” won’t be happy until we go back to transportation by animals—and if they really studied what that was like—they would see what REAL pollution was—city streets filled with barnyard pollution—and people used wood and coal for heat and transportation. Look at early photos of the early cities—what we have today is vastly better than the smoke, filth, and animal waste. In all probability, aircraft emissions are probably BETTER for the environment today than the emissions from coal and animal waste.

    While we should all strive for minimal pollution—the Earth has been remarkably resilient. Do what we can—but “perfection is the enemy of the Good.”

  3. So the people who came up with and embraced the “carbon offset” paradigm admit it can be gamed? Wow. Nobody saw that coming.

  4. If climate alarmists win, they lose.
    The offset charades can finally be proven beyond reasonable doubt to be a sham. Go for it, California.

  5. Funny, saw a claim the other day that the State of California is itself cheating on its own energy source figures by ignoring the sources of its energy imports.

    One could easily get the impression that the real point of climate policies has less to do with saving the world and more to do with jobs and money for people who can’t be bothered to do productive jobs or get out of the way.

    • Please, stop talking of that “girl” (unfortunately diagnosed with “Asperger’s syndrome, as well as obsessive-compulsive disorder and selective mutism”) that only repeats what someone or some organizations with unknown intensions tell her to say.
      We must do whatever can be done, and in an easy way, to have a better Earth, but making references to that “girl” doesn’t do nothing for that matter.

      • She is the poster child for disingenuous press releases on “carbon”. It does matter and I hope Delta uses her as an example to illustrate that EVERYONE overstates the “good” of what they are doing.

  6. The article doesn’t say whether the suit was brought by the state of California or whether it was some group using the California courts. If the latter, which I suspect, what grounds are they using for the suit? They would have to prove that they were harmed by Delta’s business activities, and then that those activities were actually negligent. And what damages are they pursuing? This whole thing sounds like some environmental group looking for some publicity – and money. It will be tough to prove that Delta’s actions are fraudulent and that anyone is actually harmed by those actions – even in a California court.

    • California created a lawyer friendly system for environmental law that encourages these sorts of suits and makes them profitable. There used to be a lot of activity in Texas with consumer suits that finally got quashed, but I’m wondering when the Texas legislature won’t rise up and unleash the hounds to go after the main industries of California and New York in reprisal for the constant attacks on the petroleum industry.