by Jerome a Paris
Sat Jul 30th, 2005 at 07:10:27 PM EST
This is a few days old, but definitely worth a mention:
EU pollution penalty could add to price of air tickets
(FT, 24 July)
Ticket prices for return flights out of European airports could rise by up to €9 under a proposal by Brussels to make airlines pay for the pollution they cause.
The European Commission wants to include airlines in its strategy to tackle climate change, putting them in the same category as power generators and oil refineries.
It's about time!
Under plans seen by the Financial Times, the Commission wants airlines included in Europe's emissions trading scheme
, which caps the amount of carbon dioxide an industry is allowed to produce.
The proposal has the backing of the British European Union presidency and is accepted by some leading airlines, including British Airways.
Mr Dimas [the EU environment commissioner] said that including airlines in the emissions trading scheme was “the most promising way forward”, preferable to alternatives such as a tax on kerosene or a new ticket tax.
His draft proposal accepts that the cost of the emissions crackdown was “likely to be passed on to air transport users” with a surcharge on a return ticket of up to €9. Mr Dimas hopes to present his plan in the autumn after a wide-ranging environmental programme was approved in principle by the Commission last week. However, new legislation is unlikely to come into force until several years after the original 2008 target date.
Mr Dimas said that, although airlines contributed only 2-3 per cent of EU emissions, that share would grow as air travel increased and undermined Europe's efforts to comply with the Kyoto climate change treaty.
So, despite the fact that it sounds like "too little, too late", it's still a step in the right direction and should be encouraged. I have never understood why kerosene is not taxed at least as much as gasoline, considering that its effects are just as noxious and widespread (it's not just the carbon dioxide, it's the air pollution, the dimming, and many other things that i am sure some of you will help me fill out).
As a frequent flyer myself, I console myself with the fact that I (well, my bank) pay(s) the full price ticket for these flights and thus, in a way, I pay the "real" price for using an airplane and burning kerosene. But I would be more comfortable knowing that this amount was actually paid towards a proper valuation of externalities.
Of course, you can argue that this is a pretty selfish line of thought - I don't care what I pay, whereas any kerosene tax would hurt individual travellers who benefit from cheap travel, so it would not impact me whereas it would others. But that's precisely the point. Travel IS expensive, resource-wise, and this should be reflected money-wise, and cheap travel should certainly be targetted. Business travel can make sense even when it costs a lot, whereas not-so-cheap travel may not, thus wasting resources. And believe me, a return trip within the day to London or Amsterdam, waking up at 5am, to have 4 meetings in a row, eat airplane food in and out, and back at home at 9 or 10 in the evening is probably not your best idea of glamorous...
I use my car and I take planes and I think these activities should be taxed a hell of a lot more, and I will pay these taxes without a peep. They are waaay overdue.