• New call for carbon charges on aviation and shipping

    A United Nations body set up after last year’s Copenhagen climate change summit has recommended increased taxes on carbon emissions and air and sea transport with the aim of raising $100 billion a year to help poorer nations fight global warming.

    The group, led by the prime ministers of Norway and Ethiopia, said carbon emission taxes must be used as a deterrent to producing greenhouse gases blamed for global warming and to raise money so the developing nations can play their part in fighting climate change.

    It proposed that CO2 emissions should cost between $20 and $25 a tonne, which would be more than double existing emissions costs made up of a lot of smaller charges. It also suggested new carbon taxes and auctioning carbon emission allowances, with the aim of raising up to $30 billion a year.

    The group was set up by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, who said the proposals were ‘financially feasible and politically viable’. But doubts remain about whether it has any official standing within the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change. If it does not, opponents of efforts to charge aviation and shipping could argue that the group’s recommendations cannot be debated as an official proposal at next month’s follow-up global climate conference in Cancun, Mexico.

    T&E programme officer Bill Hemmings said: ‘It’s hardly surprising that an independent group led by two prime ministers and featuring several finance ministers, and the financier George Soros, should come up with a recommendation that airlines and shipping companies are paying too little to cover the damage they cause. The problem is obvious, and you wonder how long the world’s governments can continue to keep their head in the sand.’