Tax on frequent fliers backed by UK citizens’ assembly

Taxes that increase as people fly further and more often should be introduced to help cut carbon, the UK’s first citizens’ assembly on climate change has recommended.

Thursday, 10th September 2020, 7:30 am
An aircraft takes off at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany, as the sun rises. Picture: AP Photo/Michael Probst
An aircraft takes off at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany, as the sun rises. Picture: AP Photo/Michael Probst

The final report from Climate Assembly UK also supports a ban on sales of new gas boilers and new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars by 2030-2035 to help Britain meet its legal goal to cut emissions to “net zero” by mid-century.

The recommendations for tackling climate change from the citizens’ assembly also include voluntary reductions in meat and dairy from diets, and planting and managing forests to help soak up excess carbon emissions.

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The group of more than 100 people from across the UK also said the shift to net zero must be fair to people, and allow for freedom and choice where possible for individuals and local areas.

They called for widespread education and information, government leadership, and cross-party consensus on the issue.

Climate Assembly UK was commissioned by six parliamentary select committees and asked to examine how the country can meet its legal target to cut greenhouse gases to zero overall by mid-century.

The group, who are representative of the UK population including in their views on climate change, met to learn about, discuss and make informed decisions on options for meeting the net-zero goal.

The assembly was forced to move online to complete its work because of the pandemic, and at its final session participants discussed the impact of the coronavirus outbreak and lockdown on the net-zero target.

An interim report showed strong support for the idea that steps taken by the Government to help the economy recover should be designed to help drive down greenhouse gas emissions.

Now the final report reveals the conclusions the assembly has come to on achieving the net-zero target in a number of areas: travel on land, travel by air, in the home, what we eat and how we use land, what we buy, electricity sources, and removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

Four-fifths (80 per cent) of assembly members strongly agreed or agreed that taxes which increase as people fly more often and as they fly further should be part of how the UK gets to net zero.

The report also shows support for a shift to low-carbon cars, improved public transport, using education to help people reduce meat and dairy, and planting forests.

In homes, they backed a ban on new gas boilers by 2030 or 2035 but said local areas should be able to choose what kind of clean heating technology - such as hydrogen heating, heat pumps and heat networks - worked for them.

Efforts to retrofit homes with insulation and technology to cut emissions must minimise disruption.

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