Taxes on plane travel should rise to tackle climate change, a major report drawn up for MPs recommends today.
The 556-page Climate Assembly UK study makes a series of suggestions about how the Government can meet its pledge for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The landmark report is the culmination of more than 6,000 hours of evidence sessions with 108 members over six weekends earlier this year.
One of its key recommendations says: “Assembly members’ preferred policy option for managing the amount we fly were taxes that increase as people fly more often and as they fly further.
“Eighty per cent of Assembly members ‘strongly agreed’ or ‘agreed’ that this should be part of how the UK gets to net-zero.
“Assembly members tended to see these taxes as fairer than alternatives that only took into account one of how often or how far people fly.
“They also felt they were less problematic in terms of their impact on people with lower incomes.
“Some Assembly members suggested that exceptions would need to be made for people with family abroad or for ‘essential flyers’.
“Others felt that any money raised from such taxes should be ring-fenced to support new air travel technologies.”
Aviation contributes about 2% of the world’s global carbon emissions, according to the International Air Transport Association.
Industry chiefs have pledged to cut emissions by switching to more fuel efficient planes.
But campaigners say more action is needed more quickly to curb the amount of pollution spewed out by jets criss-crossing the globe.
The Assembly was commissioned by six House of Commons Select Committees to understand public preferences on how the UK should tackle climate change because of the impact decisions on how to cut carbon emissions will have on people’s lives.
In an opening statement, Assembly members said it was “imperative that there is strong and clear leadership from Government” that should “forge a cross-party consensus that allows for certainty, long-term planning and a phased transition” and stress: “Now is not the time for scoring party political points.”
Welcoming the report, Commons Business Select Committee chairman Darren Jones said: “This is an extremely important contribution to the debate on how the UK reaches our net zero target and I hope it gives impetus to policymakers to take bold action to reduce our emissions.
“The range of voices within these pages reflect our population.
“The fact that Assembly members have been able to arrive at clear recommendations whilst respecting each others’ values and experiences sets an example for us all.
“It is vital that Parliament and Government examine and use the recommendations which the Assembly sets out today.”
Committee on Climate Change Chief Executive Chris Stark said: “Climate Assembly UK has shown there is broad support for climate action in the UK, and we strongly welcome its findings.
“The views of the Assembly are useful in two ways – they help inform the scenarios we are developing to demonstrate how the UK can reach net-zero emissions, and they are particularly useful in considering the policies that will help achieve the goal.
“It’s a real step forward to have this new insight.”
Greenpeace’s head of green recovery Rosie Rogers said: “We need to give the public a real voice if we’re to tackle the climate emergency fairly and sustainably.
“The Climate Assembly UK has taken on this challenge and shown that an informed public can deal with even the thorniest issues, producing a strong set of recommendations to help us solve the climate challenge.
“With this representative selection of the public behind him, Boris Johnson now has the mandate he needs to take the tough decisions on transport, renewables, aviation and diet.”