Eight airlines grew their carbon emissions faster than Ryanair on flights within Europe last year. Low-cost airlines Jet2, Wizz Air, EasyJet, Vueling and Norwegian and national carriers TAP, Finnair and Lufthansa all out-paced the Dublin-based carrier which retained its title of having the highest emissions on European routes in 2018, according to official EU data released this week.
Ryanair is now one of the top 10 carbon emitters within Europe, a league which had until now been exclusively occupied by coal plants. Transport & Environment (T&E) says the airline’s No 10 ranking, revealed in official figures released today, reflects Europe’s failure to put in place effective measures to rein in the runaway emissions growth of aviation, which pays no taxes on its fuel and VAT on its tickets.
This blog was first published by EurActivBelgium’s proposal for Europe to tax aviation is most welcome and could address the current measures that are inadequate to address climbing emissions.
The Council of ICAO – the UN’s aviation body – is meeting to take decisions on critical aspects governing the global offsetting scheme for aviation, known as CORSIA. Decisions taken will largely determine whether the CORSIA will have environmental integrity in meeting its goal of carbon-neutral growth from 2020, or whether a system might be created that operates in secrecy and allows bad quality, double-counted emissions credits which make climate change worse.
Momentum is growing to end the decades-long tax tax break for international flights. Earlier this month the Netherlands pitched an EU aviation tax to the EU’s finance ministers. And new polling indicates people prefer a frequent flyer levy over other options to tackle climate change – including doing nothing.
One of Europe’s leading airlines has announced it is buying synthetic aviation fuel as a way of reducing its carbon impact. Lufthansa wants 5% of the fuel it uses at Hamburg airport to be almost zero-carbon over the next five years. It plans to use a near emissions-free alternative to kerosene produced with currently unclaimed renewable electricity from a local windfarm. T&E welcomed the initiative which will hopefully spur similar moves by governments and others in the aviation industry towards low and zero-carbon fuels.
The ink is barely dry on the EU’s revised renewable energy policy and already it is under threat from the aviation sector. That sector’s UN aviation agency, ICAO, known for its “spectacular lack of transparency”, is once more having a closed door meeting which risks clearing the way for the type of bad biofuels the EU has spent a decade trying to get rid of. And, on top of that, they are seeking to add “lower carbon” aviation fossil fuels as an option to cut aviation emissions.
Aviation is a major source of emissions, increasing 21% within Europe in the last three years, and is projected to continue to grow. If Europe is to meet its climate targets action is needed and fiscal policy has a key role to play. To date all aviation fuel used in Europe has been tax exempt despite such taxation being permitted on European domestic flights and intra-EU since 2003, the latter subject to bilateral agreements.
EU countries can end the decades-long exemption and tax kerosene on flights between them, according to legal experts. This could either be done at EU level through a series of bilateral agreements or by agreement between individual countries, the independent legal analysis for green NGO federation Transport & Environment (T&E) finds. The old argument that foreign carriers’ operating within the EU – de facto a small number of flights – can’t be taxed can be overcome by introducing a de minimis threshold below which fuel burn would not be taxed.
This paper will consider the legal possibilities for imposing a tax on the fuel used in EU member states' domestic aviation. It will consider the relevant treaties and laws: the Chicago Convention, the EU ETS, the Energy Taxation Directive, and the Excise Duty Directive. It reaches the conclusion that taxation can be imposed on fuel used in domestic aviation without legal impediment. It should be noted at the outset that this question has been considered before by the UK Parliament and by Prof Eckhard Pache for the German Federal Environment Agency, both of which came to the conclusion that taxing domestic aviation fuel in the EU was perfectly legal.