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Finance Ministers in 9 countries want EU Action on Taxing Airline Emissions

Plane carbon footprint

Finance ministers from nine European countries have called on the EU to work harder to put a price on aviation’s carbon pollution.

In a statement, the group, which includes Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands, asked the incoming European Commission to help end the undertaxation of aviation, the most carbon intensive mode of transport. Green group Transport & Environment said the EU’s next vice-president for climate, Frans Timmermans, should now work with countries to more effectively price airlines’ carbon emissions, including ending their fuel tax exemption.

Ministers have ample means at their disposal to address airlines’ climate impact – ranging from national taxes to cooperation between member states to EU-wide proposals. What’s important is that governments and the Commission move swiftly, given growing public demand for action and the need to rein in the sector’s runaway emissions. 

Andrew Murphy, aviation manager at T&E, said: “It’s deeply unfair that everybody has to pay tax to fill up their cars but airlines don’t pay a single cent in fuel excise. EU countries and the European Commission have the ability to move ahead with taxation measures that don’t require unanimity, such as national ticket taxes, bilateral agreements to tax kerosene or a radical reform of Europe’s carbon market for aviation.”

Flying is one of the fastest-growing sources of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the most climate-intensive form of transport. Aviation is responsible for an estimated 4.9% of man-made global warming. If international aviation was a country, it would rank as a top-10 emitter globally. Yet airlines in Europe do not pay excise duty on their fuel, and only six EU countries have airline ticket taxes.