The Minister was commenting on the recent report from the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution which recommended a ban on new runways and a green tax of at least £70 per return ticket.
Commenting on the situation, Darren said, “Just as there is to be a congestion charge for cars in central London, there should be a charge for air traffic. The economics of air travel are grossly distorted, with the aviation industry passing on huge hidden costs to the rest of society.
Aircraft purchasers pay no VAT, aircraft operators pay no tax on fuel. Surely it is madness to also allow the aviation industry to get away with inflicting huge damage on our environment, create untold hidden health risks and misery from noise for those living under the flight paths. In effect, the UK aviation industry incurs almost £4 billion of costs which society as a whole picks up the tab for.
Whilst taxing aviation fuel would require international agreement, we could emulate Zurich airport’s system of applying an emissions charge in which the most polluting aircraft pay the highest charges.
Greens are calling on the UK government to give local authorities the power to levy such charges and suggest that revenue from this should be ring-fenced to help fund environmental improvements and sustainable transport initiatives.
“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.
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.