Green Party in England and Wales
Green Party unconvinced by Easyjet's "environmentally friendly" claims
The Chief Executive of Easyjet, Andy Harrison, has claimed that his company
is more environmentally friendly than other airlines because Easyjet fly
new, small aircraft which are full to capacity with passengers, as opposed
to old, large aircraft being flown half-empty. He also backs the proposed
introduction of a carbon emissions trading scheme.
Keith Taylor, Green Party Principal Speaker, comments:
"Andy Harrison's plea to be seen as an environmental good guy is a joke. To
say Easyjet are less worse than other airlines is no reason to champion
them. All airlines are part of the carbon problem, and by continuing to
promote aviation expansion the government is letting the country down and
undermining attempts to reduce carbon emissions. 70% of EU flights are
under 1000km and with trains capable of travelling at 300kph plus now is
the time to expand a fast rail network. Trains are 19 times more carbon
efficient than planes.
"The aviation industry is responsible for a fifteen per cent of UK carbon
dioxide emissions which contribute to global climate change and aircraft
also emit a range of pollutants with serious health effects including
sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and ozone (1). Companies which
provide short-haul flights are possibly less excusable than long-haul flight
providers as other less polluting forms of transport are available for
shorter journeys such as trains and ferries.
"Harrison's claim that a tax on aviation fuel is a "distortion of the
market" is laughable. Aviation is under-taxed compared to most sectors.
Flight tickets, aircraft and aviation fuel are zero-rated for VAT. HM
Treasury collects far less in air passenger duty per year than it forgoes
due to VAT zero-rating of aviation products and loss of excise revenue.
Aviation fuel pays no tax at all. Effectively, society is subsidising the
aviation industry through a colossal tax-break of £9.2 billion a year. (2)
"It is time for the aviation industry to take responsibility for the
pollution it is creating. Easyjet's interest in carbon trading schemes is
encouraging but this does not involve actually attempting to reduce carbon
emissions produced by airlines. It is evident that corporations lack the
drive to self-regulate and we call upon the government to introduce a fair
level of taxation for a maverick industry that has so far got off scot-free."
(1)The Independent, 'Cheap flights threaten UK targets for carbon
emissions', January 28, 2006, Martin Hickman
(2) Aviation Environment Federation report : 'The Hidden Cost of Flying',