France on Thursday will propose a new tax on flights in Europe to encourage travellers to switch to less polluting forms of transport, a source in the transport ministry told AFP.
The airline sector is coming under increasing pressure from so-called “flight shamers” and climate change activists who point to the industry’s large carbon footprint.
The French government will propose that the European Union adopt a new tax on air travel, which could be in the form of an extra levy on fuel or tickets, or changes to the European carbon emissions trading system.
“Different charges could be considered to reinforce the principle of ‘polluter pays’ and France believes that they should be weighed up in order to find the best way of doing it,” the source said on Wednesday.
“Given the scale of the climate challenge, France believes that we need to go further and more quickly,” the source added.
The UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization estimates commercial flying is responsible for two percent of global CO2 emissions and EU figures show it as the most polluting form of transport per kilometre (mile) travelled.
But the head of airline industry body IATA, Alexandre de Juniac, defended his members at an annual meeting of the organisation in South Korea this week.
He acknowledged that the sector was under pressure to act, but said that the public was unaware of efforts being made by the industry, including the use of new fuel-efficient airliners and biofuels.
He also criticised the idea of new “green taxes” which he said were normally collected by governments and used for non-environmental ends.
The industry is likely to fight against any new taxes in Europe given that it is already subject to the EU carbon emissions trading system and, from 2020, to a new global mechanism called the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA).
Calls to boycott air travel have grown in recent years in step with growing awareness about the dangers of climate change.