Committee calls for frequent flyer tax to tackle emissions

A frequent flyer tax should be introduced to help curb the UK's air miles and ensure the country meets its commitments to cutting carbon emissions, according to the Committee on Climate Change (COCC).

26 Sep 2019

A frequent flyer tax should be introduced to help curb the UK's air miles and ensure the country meets its commitments to cutting carbon emissions, according to the Committee on Climate Change (COCC).

The COCC is an independent body which advises the government on building a low-carbon economy and preparing for climate change. It has written to Grant Shapps, Minister for Transport, outlining proposals on how to bring international aviation emissions within the UK's net-zero target by 2050.

According to the COCC, aviation emissions could be reduced by around 20% between now and 2050 through improvements to fuel efficiency and some use of sustainable biofuels. However, as the government currently projects a 49% increase in the number of air passengers by 2050, 'urgent action' is needed to limit this growth, said the COCC.

The COCC has put forward a handful of measures to achieve this aim, including using carbon pricing, introducing a frequent flyer levy and implementing reforms to Air Passenger Duty (APD).

Commenting on the proposals, Cait Hewitt, Deputy Director at the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF), said: 'British people currently take more international flights than anyone else in the world, but there's a growing public recognition that this feels out of step with the action we need to take on climate change, and two-thirds of Britons say they support limiting air travel to address the climate crisis.

'It's worth remembering that demand for aviation growth is being driven by a minority of frequent flyers. 70% of UK flights are made by just 15% of the population.'

The government said it will study the recommendations.

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