Warming the skies

Environmentalists in Europe are campaigning for a tax on aviation fuels to reduce aircraft emissions

Published: Sunday 31 May 1998

 High-flying polluters governments may be forced to hike air ticket costs as European environmental groups are pushing for pollution taxes on aviation fuel. When European Union environment and transport ministers met in Chester, uk, recently, environmentalists demanded for a tax on carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from aircraft or extra tax on aviation fuel.

The taxation demand follows the draft of a new study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ( ipcc ) that was circulated for scientists' review in April. The study says that aircraft emissions may be responsible for five to six per cent of the warming caused by greenhouse gases. However, some scientists who did the study pointed out that the actual figure may be as high as 10 per cent, as their study was based on outdated models. This would mean that aircraft emissions have more than over 50 per cent of the global warming potential of emissions from road transport.

Scientists now realise that excluding aircraft emission from the Kyoto protocol on reducing green house emissions was a big mistake. Environmentalists are suggesting stringent action, as aircraft emissions are doubling every ten years. They want governments to make air travel expensive to encourage people to switch to high-speed trains.

A study by the Dutch Centre for Energy Conservation showed that a tax of 20 us cents on a litre of air fuel would reduce co 2 emissions by aircraft in Europe by 30 per cent by the year 2025. This reduction could be achieved by encouraging airline companies to make technical innovations and by reducing the demand for air travel.

"The Right Price for Air Travel" campaign consists of 250 environmental groups from 20 European countries. A spokesperson for the campaigners said that the environmentalists plan to pressurise the ministers to make proposals for pollution tax on aviation fuel at the formal European council meeting scheduled for June.

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