Official petition launched to end ‘kerosene tax haven’

A European Citizens’ Initiative has been launched that calls for European governments to end aviation’s fuel tax exemption. The petition followed the leak of a report for the European Commission showing that taxing kerosene sold in Europe would cut aviation emissions by 11% and have no net impact on jobs or the economy as a whole. T&E is encouraging people to sign the petition, which could lead directly to legislation if it attracts one million signatures.

Aviation fuel (kerosene) has enjoyed an exemption from taxation since the second world war. Some countries, almost exclusively outside Europe, have introduced taxes on fuel used in internal flights, but most taxation on flying has come in the form of ticket charges. In its first paper on aviation and the environment in 1995, T&E pointed out that the Chicago Convention (which has regulated international air transport since 1944) does not rule out taxes on fuel, but the aviation industry has continued to say it does.

The leaked report for the European Commission shows that a €0.33 per litre tax on aviation kerosene sold in Europe would cut aviation emissions by 11% (16.4 million tonnes of CO2). It would also have no net impact on jobs or the economy as a whole, and raise almost €27 billion in revenues every year, the report finds. The emissions reduction would be equivalent to removing almost almost 8 million cars from our roads.

In addition, the report confirms that the Chicago Convention ‘does not explicitly prohibit the taxation of jet fuel,’ only the taxation of fuel remaining on board an aircraft upon arrival from another state.

Now a group of activists operating under the name ‘ECI taxing kerosene’ have launched a petition under the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI). This means the petition is registered with the Commission, and if more than one million people sign it within a year of launch, the Commission would either have to propose legislation to implement the demand, or give reasons why they chose not to.

‘Europe is quite simply a kerosene tax haven,’ said Bill Hemmings, T&E’s aviation director. ‘We condemn tax havens when they allow for millions to be kept out of public funds and facilitate money laundering, so we should be equally condemnatory of a situation that deprives European treasuries of €27 billion a year and encourages growth of a practice that contributes to climate breakdown. Flying is the fastest way of frying the planet, and aviation’s decades-long kerosene tax holiday needs to end now.’

The petition can be accessed here, and the one million signatures mark has to be met by 10 May next year. Anyone wanting to sign may be asked to give their passport number or other forms of identification, as signatories have to be verified by national authorities.

European finance ministries are set to discuss aviation taxation, including a tax on kerosene, at a specially convened conference in the Hague on 20-21 June. Last week the French environment minister told her EU counterparts that France will propose a new tax on flights in Europe to encourage travellers to switch to less polluting forms of transport.