As the consultation on Heathrow expansion – which includes building a third runway – is launched, the UKs seven Green MEPs have thrown their weight behind a European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) demanding tax on aviation fuel. The Green group in Brussels, now numbering 75 MEPs, have pledged support for an EU-wide tax on kerosene. There are also on-going discussions about a coalition of EU Member States who agree to implement aviation taxation. The Dutch government is organising such a meeting this week and the Green MEPs have challenged the UK government to join these high level negotiations.
The ECI petition, which is calling for an end to the ‘kerosene tax exemption in Europe’ is seeking a million signatures. It points to aviation benefiting unfairly from tax advantages while being the most carbon intensive mode of transport. Airline companies currently pay no fuel tax and CO2 emissions from flying in Europe have risen by 21% over the past three years.
“Offering aviation a tax-free ride at a time when we face a climate emergency is pure lunacy. It is high time aviation paid its fair share of tax and that must begin with paying tax on its fuel, just as other forms of transport have to. This would create a more level playing field, encouraging cleaner forms of transport, especially high-speed rail, while clipping the wings of the most polluting transport sector. This will also end the clamour for airport expansion. We need to decide what future we want. It comes down to a choice between more runways or runaway climate change.”
The new Green MEP for London, Scott Ainslie, added:
“As the consultation for Heathrow expansion opens today, I hope Londoners and those in the South East, many of whom suffer tremendously from noise and air pollution already, send a clear message of no to airport expansion. The Committee on Climate Change has set a target of net-zero emissions by 2050 in order to stand a chance of combatting climate and ecological breakdown. Will the government therefore join a coalition of EU countries willing to take on the aviation industry and impose fair taxes on it?”
Commenting on the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI), which requires a million signatures from at least seven EU countries, Green MEP for the South East, Alexandra Phillips, said:
“People are astounded by the rank hypocrisy of this Tory government who on the one hand have a net-zero carbon target for 2050, and yet at the same time are seeking further airport expansion. That’s why we will get the support of campaign groups like Plane Stupid, Extinction Rebellion and the Youth Climate Strike, to name but a few. And there are many others across Europe so we will reach the one million signatures required to trigger a response from the Commission and a hearing in the European Parliament.”