Far from being a traditional right, jetting off on a cheap flight is a recently acquired luxury enjoyed by the better off in richer countries. Climate change, in contrast, will affect everyone and could be most damaging for people in the poorest parts of the world. By 2050 air traffic, unless curbed, could be one of the principal causes of climate change, including global warming, caused by human activities.
“Once environmental damage is properly counted into the cost, it becomes obvious that there’s no such thing as a cheap flight”, says Cllr. Darren Johnson AM, Leader of the Green Party in the London Assembly, who has welcomed the conclusions of the report on aviation pollution published by the Royal Commission.
“Freedom to fly is potentially freedom to flood, courtesy of aviation’s effect on global warming”, cautions Darren.
In fact, the Green Party Group in the London Assembly has been calling for some time for similar measures to be taken to those recommended in the Report.
Similarly to the report, Greens have been arguing that rapid growth in aviation will fundamentally contradict the Government’s professed goal of sustainable development.
Greens have also been urging the Government to take steps to discourage short distance flights. Shorter flights are proportionately more polluting than long-haul ones, so Greens want to encourage rail travel instead for certain trips, for example UK domestic flights and those to nearer parts of continental Europe.
The Commission also echoes the Greens’ proposal for a Europe-wide emissions charge, which airports would be required to levy on all aircraft taking-off from or landing at European airports. Some of this emissions charge could be passed on to passengers by the airlines as a price rise. An increase in ticket price would act to reduce demand, especially for short-haul flights.
Improved rail services between the North of England and London could reduce domestic flights by 40%.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
The Commission’s Special Report, The Environmental Effects of Civil Aircraft in Flight was published 29 Nov 2002
For further information contact
Keith Magnum, London Green Party Press Officer 07732 465571