Delta Air Lines [DAL:US] is facing a consumer class action lawsuit alleging that the company’s USD1bn carbon neutrality claim is “false and misleading,” as reported by the Guardian on May 30. The lawsuit was filed in California on behalf of a local resident who bought Delta tickets to support “more ecologically conscious air travel.” The lawsuit targets Delta’s statement that it is “the world’s first carbon-neutral airline,” saying that the carbon neutrality claim is false as it heavily relies on bogus carbon offsets. Additionally, the complaint asserted that the US airline violated state consumer protection laws and laws prohibiting unfair and fraudulent business practices. Delta has not yet commented on the lawsuit.
In February 2020, Delta committed USD1bn to mitigate all emissions from its global business over the next decade, as part of its plan to become carbon neutral. The plan includes buying carbon credits generated from the conservation of rainforests, wetlands, and grasslands, as well as reducing jet fuel usage and improving plane efficiency. However, the recent lawsuit alleged that Delta’s carbon credits are generated from junk carbon offsets that would have happened without the firm’s investment. In January 2023, the Guardian, the German weekly Die Zeit, and the non-profit investigative journalism organization SourceMaterial finished a nine-month investigation into the forest carbon offsets approved by the world’s leading certifier, Verra. The investigation revealed that these carbon offsets, which major corporations like Disney adopt [DIS:US], Shell [SHEL:US], and Gucci, are often based on preserving rainforests that were not actually at risk of destruction.