Duty on kerosene would help combat climate change

20 December 2007

Duty on kerosene would help combat climate change

The amount of attention given to climate change has grown hugely. Quite rightly, as it is a problem of which almost everyone has experience. It is remarkable that air travel, as a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, remains invariably out of the picture when measures to combat climate change are taken. This sector is responsible for over 10 per cent of the total climate impact of the Netherlands, and without intervention this share is set to double.

by Emile Roemer, Member of Parliament for the SP, with fellow MPs from the PvdA (Labour Party), Green Left, PvdD (Animal Rights party), the Christian Union and the centre party D66.

Together with parliamentarian colleagues from Belgium, Germany, the UK and France, we are therefore proposing the introduction of duties on the kerosene used by air traffic within and between our countries. There are three reasons why we are doing this: firstly, the emission of greenhouse gasses by air transport is growing so rapidly that it is nullifying our savings at ground level; secondly, it concerns a tax which must also be paid by bus passengers and users of private cars, the failure to tax air transport being in reality an unfair subsidy to a polluting form of transport; and thirdly, in north-west Europe sufficient alternatives exist to make it unnecessary to take the plane.

We are aware that paying taxes in never a pleasure, but would rather see taxation on polluting activities than on labour. Kerosene taxes would thus achieve two ends, while taxing air travel would represent a tax on higher income groups. Research by the College of Higher Education for Tourism, commissioned by the environmental group 'Milieudefensie' (Environmental Defence) shows that the most frequent flyers are well-to-do people in their middle years. Half of the Dutch population fly less than once every three years or never at all.

We take the climate problem seriously. Doing nothing about the growth of air traffic is for us not an option, because the positive developments which we are seeing, such as voluntary carbon offset payments and the European system of trading in emissions, are as things stand having little influence on the output of greenhouse gasses. We are therefore asking the government to take action. A majority in parliament supports measures against the rapid growth of emissions from air transport, including duties on kerosene. The Netherlands already imposes duties on domestic air traffic and a tax on tickets. Because a ticket tax throughout the EU is unlikely, it is time that we got together with our neighbours to take the next step. We call on the Finance Minister Wouter Bos and the Secretary of State Jan Kees de Jager, with parliament's support, to persuade the governments of these countries to take such action.

First published in the Dutch daily Trouw on 20th December 2007

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