CO2 levy on flights is 'unworkable'

6 October 2004
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07 October 2004

The Institute of Travel Management (ITM) has branded as unworkable a government proposal for a voluntary carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions levy on airline tickets.

The Department for Transport (DfT) suggested the scheme in a written response to a report on the aviation industry by the House of Commons environmental audit committee.

A similar strategy to the government-backed emissions scheme in Germany "may merit further investigation", it noted.

A DfT spokesman told SM: "It was a suggestion only and we have not looked at it in any detail. It is just a concept."

No details have been fleshed out of what percentage would be applied or where the money would go.

But the levy idea is a complete non-starter, according to an ITM spokesman.

"It is not practical and is even unworkable," he said.

Ian Nurdin, business travel manager at Nestlé UK and vice-chair of the ITM, said the plan was not practical and warned that even though it would be voluntary now, it could lead to an obligatory levy.

"Where would it stop?" he asked. "You could use the same reasoning for having a levy on rail tickets, then car fleets."

Marilyn Clifton, corporate travel manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Oracle, said no travel buyer would voluntarily add thousands of pounds to their airline budget.

"It is totally unworkable and sounds like a way for airlines to get more money," she said.

"A 1 per cent rise on a global airline budget of up to £30 million would add hundreds of thousands of pounds at a time when budgets are being cut so tightly."

She added that corporate social responsibility in travel management should be a joint effort by all parties, including buyers, airlines, hotels and vehicle fleet operators.

Peter Ainsworth MP, chairman of the enivronmental audit committee, said the government's response was unexpected.

He told SM: "We were a bit surprised to find the government coming back to us with the levy suggestion. But we are pleased they are now at least looking at the issue of CO2 emissions from airlines."

He agreed that it looked ambitious for the government to expect people to pay a levy voluntarily, but that would depend on how concerned about the environment the companies and consumers were.

"It would also depend on where the money was spent. If it went into the chancellor's budget with no accountability, then it would not likely be paid."

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