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An Update on The EU’s Carbon Tax on Flights


A couple of days ago, I posted about the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), a carbon tax aimed at air travel.  Well, according to World Environment News, “a group of 26 countries, including the United States, China, India and Russia, have sharply criticized the EU program and will meet next week in Moscow to set a strategy to block the EU plan.”

Also, earlier this week, the environment ministers of Brazil, South Africa, India and China put out a statement “condemning the emissions charges” and saying that the EU was jeopardizing the global fight against climate change by acting on its own rather than building a multilateral agreement“.  WHAT?!?!?  The EU is jeopardizing the fight against climate change?

First of all, what kind of environment minister condemns putting a cost on carbon emissions.  (Well, besides maybe a Canadian one.)  It is generally accepted by climatologists and economists that a tax on carbon is the best way to achieve important emissions reductions.  And, no, it doesn’t ruin your economy when the tax is done intelligently.  For example, Sweden’s economy has grown by 44% since the introduction of their carbon tax.  And, they’ve exceeded their emissions targets under the Kyoto Protocol.

Second, the EU is arguably the only part of the world that is doing anything meaningful to fight climate change.  European countries have fees on carbon which have helped significantly reduced carbon emissions (see example above).  European countries have feed-in tariffs to encourage investments in renewable energy.  The EU is working to ban gasoline and diesel automobiles by 2050.  What have the rest of us done besides drop out of Kyoto (Canada), elect federal politicians whole don’t believe in climate change because God said he wouldn’t flood the Earth again (The US, and I didn’t make that line up) and, work to expand production of the dirtiest form of oil on the planet (Canada again)?

The global community has been unable to come to a “multilateral agreement”, so the EU is acting like the one responsible adult in the room and doing what everyone else should be doing!

Finally, will all this objection from all these countries, you would think that the fee from the ETS would be horrendously prohibitive to air travel.  According to World Environment News, the plan would charge airlines for 15 percent of the carbon they emit.  For a trip from London to New York, that would work out to $2 US!  TWO DOLLARS!  On a flight that, according to the website “Cheap Flights” costs $592 US.  And for that, the countries in opposition are actually threatening a trade war.

Luckily, according to the European Transport Commissioner, the EU plans to hold its ground.  As they should.


Source: World Environment News

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Martin Lack permalink
    2012/02/17 7:58 am

    We need to get people out of the sky but I don’t know how we are going to do it. It is far more likely that humanity will keep flying until every last drop of fossil fuel has been burnt; and that we will then start on the used cooking oil and the biogas…

    I agree with James Hansen that emissions trading was and is the wrong strategy, we should have always been pursuing carbon taxes. I also agree with you that it is ridiculous for the less developed countries (LDC) to complain about courageous unilateral action being taken by the EU.

    However, to understand where the LDC are coming from, the work of Indian journalist Praful Bidwai is a good place to start (see my links to the Transnational Institute’s website here).

    • 2012/02/23 8:55 am

      We need to get people out of the sky but I don’t know how we are going to do it

      AA guns?

      • 2012/02/23 10:00 pm

        Ha! Good one. Not the idea of shooting down planes… the play on words : )

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