Governments meeting to tax aviation must seize opportunity to act on climate crisis

Today’s conference of EU finance ministers and officials in the Hague to discuss ways to tax aviation and address its climate impact is a long overdue and welcome development, NGOs Transport & Environment (T&E) and Natuur & Milieu have said. Taxing aviation fuel within Europe is possible, so EU governments must not get bogged down in seeking unanimity for an EU tax but instead work bilaterally to tax airlines. Unlike road transport, airlines have never paid a single cent of excise duty on the fuel they take on at EU airports.

Only six EU countries have airline ticket taxes. Member states are entirely free to expand them, and T&E and Natuur & Milieu said they should do so as they make up for revenues lost due to the VAT exemption enjoyed by airlines.

Taxing aviation kerosene sold in Europe would cut aviation emissions by 11% and have no net impact on jobs or the economy as a whole while raising almost €27 billion in revenues every year, a recent European Commission study showed. Contrary to the aviation industry’s claims, the study noted that the Chicago Convention does not prohibit the taxation of jet fuel taken on board, only the taxation of fuel remaining after the flight. Member states have long had the power to start taxing kerosene on flights within Europe, but have failed to do so.

Bill Hemmings, aviation director at Transport & Environment, said: “No new laws are needed to tax aviation fuel in Europe. What has lacked so far is governments’ willingness to abolish fossil fuel subsidies for Europe’s fastest growing polluter. Now is their chance to respond to the current clamour for action at the ballot boxes and in our streets.”

Transport is Europe’s biggest climate problem, representing 27% of the bloc’s greenhouse gas emissions. Aviation CO2 emissions grew 4.9% within Europe last year – while emissions from all other industries in the ETS fell 3.9%. CO2 from flying in Europe has soared 26.3% in the last five years – far outstripping any other EU emissions source.

Marjolein Demmers, director at Natuur & Milieu, said: “We appreciate the initiative of State Secretary Snel to host this important conference and start a European dialogue. However, we also urge him to start taxing aviation in a way that really reduces CO2 emissions. The current proposal of the Dutch government to implement a €7 ticket tax is a start, but needs to be raised and complemented with a kerosene tax.”

Read more:

Taxing aviation fuel in the EU: a brief guide


Contact the press team

Nico Muzi
Communications Director
+32 (0)484 27 87 91 
nico.muzi@transportenvironment.org

Receive our PRs