Green Party in England & Wales
EAC label Department of Transport's 'failure of purpose' and call for
a rise in air travel tax
Green Party Principal Speaker Keith Taylor commented: "The government
insists that tackling climate change is a priority, but as today's
report shows, they have failed dismally to match any of their
rhetoric with action.
"The Green Party supports calls for the return of the fuel-duty
escalator, scrapped after the fuel protests, so that petrol and
diesel become progressively more expensive year by year. Taxation has
an important role to play in changing people's behaviour, and the
government's efforts in this direction have, so far, been
contemptible. This is particularly true of Gordon Brown's recent
budget - banding of vehicle excise duty is gesture politics in
response to the staggering growth in the number of SUVs; gas
guzzling cars must hit the pocket much harder to ensure people make
more environmentally friendly choices.
"Airlines currently enjoy a complex array of tax breaks and hidden
subsidies - worth more than £9 billion in the UK alone - which are
outdated and totally incompatible with reducing carbon emissions. The
Green Party have long called for an end to these unfair benefits,
with the introduction of fuel tax on aviation fuel and emission
charges and increased landing charges on aircraft, reflecting our
belief in the 'polluter pays' principle.
"Progress on removing this financial sponsorship and getting the
industry to pay its way has been pitifully slow because our
government lacks the political courage. Tony Blair has presided over
the greatest expansion of aviation in a generation, helping ensure
transport is the only sector of the UK economy where carbon emissions
have risen consistently since 1990, with emissions from air traffic
doubling since 1990 and set to quintuple!
Mr Taylor also questioned a member of the Environmental Audit
Commission, Stephen Ladyman MP's, assertion that taxing people off
planes would hit poorer people and stop them taking holidays abroad
- "What we need is a system which effectively taxes inefficient
airlines or taxes those airlines that don't invest in the more modern
aeroplanes," said Mr Ladyman. (1)
Keith Taylor responded: "It is worth considering the growing evidence
which suggests that decreasing ticket prices mean that the wealthy
fly more often, rather than that those who did not fly previously now
do. The Civil Aviation Authority's Passenger Survey in 2003 found
that the average passenger salary at low-fare airline airport
Stansted in the UK was £46,000, while a report by the Institute for
Public Policy Research in the UK also showed that the top three
social classes take more than 75% of low cost flights.
"Clearly, suggestions that flight numbers are rising as a result of
an increase in poorer people taking more flights is misleading - it
is richer people flying more often that is spearheading the dangerous
increase in carbon emissions."
"The government has to make up its mind if it's serious about
tackling pollution and climate change, in which case it will
encourage sustainable travel and curb high emission outputs from
aircraft or SUVs, or whether it will continue to promote growth in
these industries - it can't have it both ways."