Europe should introduce a “rapidly escalating levy system” that charges people increasing amounts to travel by plane depending on how often they do it.
On The Hard Shoulder this evening, Environmental commentator John Gibbons warned that an “elite minority of frequent flyers” are doing the most damage to the environment.
He was speaking after the Green Party in Norway called for the introduction of ‘personal quotas’ for air travel to reduce unnecessary flights after the pandemic.
Mr Gibbons noted that greenhouse gases from aviation have more than doubled since 1990 – and warned that, if we continue on our current trajectory the industry will account for one-fifth of the world’s carbon emissions in 30 years’ time.
“Bear in mind that less than one-in-ten people in the world will ever set foot in an aircraft,” he said.
“Over 90% of the world’s population, the people who are currently getting hammered by climate change are the ones who are subsidising this cheap travel.”
He noted that there were 35 million passenger movements in and out of Ireland, the last time the country had full connectivity in 2019.
“Rapidly escalating levy system"
He said the fairest way to prevent 'elite travellers from hogging up the air miles,' while ensuring people can still get away on holidays is to introduce a “rapidly escalating levy system.”
“In other words, for your first 1,500km, there is no charge. For your next 1,000km, your next 5,000km, the rate goes up.
“That means that for Joe and Mary, the teachers who want to go to Malaga, that’s fine. They go once and there is no problem.
“But the guys who decide it is their God-given right to travel hither and tither at the drop of a hat – off to Hong Kong, popping down to Australia and flying off to the west coast because they think they are so important – they need to be hammered with levies that reflect the long-term damage they are doing to the environment.
“By the way, that environment is the place their kids are going to have live one of these days.”
Also, on the show travel journalist Eoghan Corry said personal quotas “sound like a crazy idea.”
“It is not going to achieve what it sets out to do and it would be particularly damaging for Ireland and for the peripheral countries of Europe,” he said.
“Reducing our emissions and bringing climate change under control is a laudable goal but tackling it by curtailing our flight options could be counterproductive and it hits the peripheral regions of Europe the hardest – of which Ireland is a part.
He noted that commercial aviation is not the largest contributor to aviation emissions and suggested the economic damage the idea would bring to Ireland would hamper the country’s environmental response.
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