Blair Rules Out Taxing Air Travel
Tony Blair is opposed to clawing back any of the aviation industry’s annual £9bn subsidy or introducing new taxes to limit airlines’ impact on the environment, he told a parliamentary committee today.
The PM told the Commons Liaison Committee he didn’t believe ‘restrictions on air travel at an international level’ would cut passenger numbers, which are scheduled to double by 2020 and triple by 2030 – and could be responsible for as much as 60 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Environmentalists across the EU have condemned what is being seen as a U-turn on UK environment policy, warning the PM’s decision will hasten damaging climate change.
Euro-MP Caroline Lucas, who is currently drafting a report for the European Parliament examining aviation’s impact on climate change, said the only way to rein in aviation’s greenhouse gas emissions was to reduce demand by a range of economic and fiscal measures.
Dr Lucas said: “This is an extraordinary abrogation of duty: and one which finally puts the lie to this Tony Blair’s much-hyped ‘green credentials’.
“Aviation is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gases, already responsible for more than five per cent of all the EU’s emissions, with passenger numbers set to triple in the UK by 2030.
“By ruling out any attempt to make the aviation industry pays its way – it already receives some £9 bn in annual subsidies and tax breaks in the UK alone – Tony Blair knows he is condemning the UK to fail to meet its environmental or legal commitments to cut greenhouse gases and prevent catastrophic climate change.”
The Green Party MEP, whose South-East England constituency hosts Gatwick Airport – one of the EU’s busiest – is also a member of the European Parliament’s influential Environment Committee.
She added: “By putting his faith in ‘environmentally-friendly aircraft’ and new techno-fixes Tony Blair is ignoring the reality that growth in demand for air travel is fast outpacing our technological ability to reduce individual aircraft’s emissions.
“How can he possibly claim to exercise global leadership on environmental issues after today’s comments? This really is confirmation that Blair is little more than a common climate criminal, whose views have much in common with those of his great ally George W Bush and little in common with either the scientific consensus or the rest of the EU.”
Note to Editors: The full text of Tony Blair’s evidence to the Commons Liaison Committee today is available at
Dr Lucas’s report into aviation’s impact on climate change will be discussed by MEPs this Spring.
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