Ryanair becomes first airline in EU’s top ten biggest polluters

Ryanair became one of Europe’s 10 biggest polluters last year, a first for a company that doesn’t run coal-fired power plants, European Commission’s figures show.

The data compiled by the Brussels-based Transport & Environment (T&E) research group shows that Ryanair emitted an estimated 9.9 megatonnes of CO2 in 2018, making the low-cost airline the bloc’s 10th biggest polluter.

Power plants — seven of which are German — make up the rest of the top 10. The biggest emitter was found to be Poland’s Belchatow power station — the world’s second largest fossil-fuel power plant.

Other industries are managing to cut their output of harmful substances. Last year, the EU Emissions Trading System recorded an 3.8 percent reduction in greenhouse gases. Nations from Germany to the U.K. are phasing out coal plants to curb emissions.

Ryanair was 10th on the list of top polluters in Europe. The remaining slots in the top 10 were taken by utilities that generate electricity from coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel.

The International Civil Aviation Organization recently moved to address aviation emissions by adopting self-policing guidelines. Those call for offsetting any carbon increases by planting trees or investing in cleaner technologies. Critics of the plan said offsets have already been tried and don’t work, in part because they’re hard to police.