Ryanair boss’s extraordinary ‘we don’t listen to Greta’ attack

Travel chaos: Ryanair’s O'Leary calls for more European workers

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Ryanair’s chief executive has hit out at Greta Thunberg in an extraordinary attack on the teen climate activist. Michael O’Leary rubbished the Swedish climate activist’s attempts at “flight shaming” have fallen flat in the airline world. He also accused climate scientists of “rabbiting on” for criticising air travel as world leaders attended the COP27 summit.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Mr O’Leary said he doesn’t “pay too much attention” to activists peddling a “fallacy”.

He claimed there was “very little evidence” of the impact of Ms Thunberg’s “flygskam” movement.

Thunberg has led attempts to “flight shame” people and discourage them from air travel due to aeroplane emissions.

Planes emit roughly 90kg of CO2 per passenger per hour of flight, placing them among the most environmentally unfriendly vehicles in the world.

But Mr O’Leary said that Ms Thunberg’s campaign is a “fallacy” for those living in the UK and Ireland.

He rejected the “idea that we can all simply go by train on weekends when there aren’t train strikes” and that air travel is one of the “greatest causes of emissions”.

And he suggested the aviation sector was a relatively small generator of CO2 emissions in Europe.

He told The Telegraph: “I was on BBC Radio 4 this morning and, of course, they had enough climate scientists rabbiting on about how air travel was one of the greatest causes of emissions.”

“[The aviation sector generates] two percent of Europe’s CO2 emissions. Road transport is 27 percent. Now nobody believes we can eliminate road transport.

“But equally, if you live on an island or on the periphery of Europe, you can’t eliminate air travel either.”

A September 2022 report from the International Energy Agency found that the aviation sector accounted for two percent of global emissions in 2021.

The agency said the sector is still far from its 2050 net zero targets, requiring technical measures, low-carbon fuels, aircraft improvements and more.

The aviation sector is under increased scrutiny at the COP27 summit this year.

On November 15, the New Climate Institute will hold an event seeking a “just transition to sustainable mobility”.

During the event, attendees will take a “deep dive” into the “hard-to-abate aviation sector”.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) supported initiatives in the aviation sector will also announce “higher ambition and increased collaboration” with others.

Mr O’Leary commented on climate activism as Ryanair posted growing profits.

The company reported profits of €1.4 billion in its half-year results, higher than the €1.2 billion posted in pre-Covid 2019.

For 2022, Ryanair expects its annual profits to reach between €1 billion and €1.2 billion.

And it expects more people to travel via air in the coming months, with 168 million people in the year to March 2023.

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