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Low-cost for much longer?

Nick Robinson | 12:32 UK time, Friday, 5 January 2007

Thinking about that weekend in Tallinn? You better go before it’s too late.

The Environment Minister Ian Pearson has dug out Ted Heath's old phrase to brand Ryanair "the unacceptable face of capitalism". Ryanair's crime is that its publicity-hungry boss is resisting the new conventional wisdom that says that we're all going to have to fly less, and pay more if we do fly, to combat climate change.

Intriguingly Pearson and Labour are not alone in taking on the low-cost airline. The Tories’ green policy review group is discussing plans to tax flights within the UK to encourage people to travel by rail. One of its members, the former transport minister Steve Norris argues that low-cost flights must - quite simply - get much much more expensive. (Indeed, he recently made this case on Decision Time - which I spoke about here.)

The Lib Dems published detailed proposals for ending air travel's low tax status last year.

The politicians say air travel's under-taxed compared with other forms of transport and that flight emissions are the fastest growing contributor to global warming. Ryanair replies that flights here are a tiny proportion of the problem compared with China's plans to open a new coal-fired power station every week. It just could be that they're both right.


  • 1.
  • At 01:20 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Gareth wrote:

Fine, but are there also proposals to update our railways to a TGV-style service? This is what would encourage me to use them, not just in the UK but for travel to Europe as well?

  • 2.
  • At 01:24 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Dave C wrote:

Yes air travel is undertaxed, but most other travel is overtaxed with respect to the carbon emissions it causes. If the government is going to tax air travel purely on carbon, it won't have anywhere near as high a percentage tax rate as petrol does.

  • 3.
  • At 01:35 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Belinda wrote:

If the government genuinely want people to stop using low-cost airlines and move back onto trains, then they may well be advised to stop the increases in train fares, and yes, even move to reduce them.
Plus, it is terribly difficult to take a train to Dublin or Tallinn as the lines get rather wet.

This feels to be less about the environment and more about the government simply trying to increase taxes yet again; something which permeates through the whole taxing-for-climate-change strategy of which Brown et al are so fond.

  • 4.
  • At 01:38 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Neil Small wrote:

All Ryanair cares about is profit. Using arguments about China don't wash.

Airlines SHOULD be taxed heavier. Road users face a huge tax bill, even if they have a small car. Rail is not a Labour priority, yet if there was proper investment in the rail system thousands of tonnes of freight would be removed from the road.

Start hammering the airlines for a change. Or does the air transport lobby have powerful friends in the Chancellor's office?

  • 5.
  • At 02:02 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Andy wrote:

Perhaps if the railways were as efficent and cheap as in France we wouldn't need to fly short haul so much. Also is it not somewhat ironic that today of all days a Malaysian Long-haul Low Cost Carrier is launched which allegedly will offer fares to/from London from as little as £40 return - in no measure do such fares cover the environmental costs associated with flying.

  • 6.
  • At 02:24 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Jonathan Sandall wrote:

It is ridiculous that it's possible to fly thousands of miles with a budget airline for a couple of quid.

Everyone likes a bargain - but if companies like Ryanair continue to thrive the environmental impact will be catastrophic.

This over promoted empty head of a minister states that: "Ryanair are not just the unacceptable face of capitalism, they are the irresponsible face of capitalism."

In one sentence you have the real reason behind the worldwide green campaign - the Left's hatred of capitalism. And of course, if the green extremists get their way the devastating effects of millions of redundancies worldwide won't trouble the green-tinged wealthy elite. It will affect the hundreds of thousands of UK workers who'll lose their jobs.

  • 8.
  • At 02:42 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • av wrote:

I think air transport should be taxed at a higher rate, why do people need to travel abroad so often. There won't be any holidays if the Global warming continues as it is, in fact there wont be much anywhere. Its not our right to be able to have a holiday abroad, but I do think that if the UK put holiday prices down it would encourage people to stay here, after all our summers will be hotter now...
Every one needs to act now and not be so selfish, our children and their children need a decent planet to live on, we are stealing their time. Every thing is so money orientated its very sad.

Do you remember the old joke about train services delayed when leaves fell on the line?

Well now budget airlines won't fly out of provincial airlines if there is rain on the runway now-a-days.

Not sure about the unaceptable face of capatalism... I blame the unaceptable face of British weather.

  • 10.
  • At 02:45 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Giles wrote:

Cheaper train fares=more people using trains for short journeys instead of flying. It really is that simple. The sucess of Eurostar is proof that (at least some) people will choose trains over planes if the service is good and competitively priced.

The airline industry and air travellers must undoubtedly face some of the burden to fighting climate change, but I find it staggering that the government has allowed the least polluting form of transport in this country to become so ludicrously overpriced.

  • 11.
  • At 02:47 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Kevin Ruane wrote:

We can't blame the low cost air providers for working within the limits that the Government put in place, but it's true that there needs to be a serious sea change in how we think about travel in this country. It worries me that for the price of a couple of DVDs I could fly to Amsterdam or Paris, yet travel by train with work from Gloucester to London costs almost 7 times as much.

Development of further forms of travel at better prices is what will help the economy and environment in this country. I am truly disgusted that the reason for higher rail fares is because the rail services are so busy. Maybe it's just my own simpleton's opinion that higher demand should lead to higher supplies and therefore cheaper prices?

  • 12.
  • At 02:48 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • brian wrote:

Dear me, the lower orders are having the impudence to travel to places which should be reserved for their betters and these terrible airlines are actually making it possible! Quick- declare forign travel a threat to the environment and make sure abroad remains reserved for the right sort of person. As for the mob-well, Blackpool was good enough for their parents, it should be good enough for them.

The people who are anti cheap air travel are either people on expense accounts, like politicians, or people who never have to fly.

As a regular user of budget air travel, I am dismayed that this cheap shot publicity stunt will impact on the usual suspects - i.e. the honest poor, who pay all their taxes, earn a living and do not rely on subsidies, handouts and minority molly coddling.

The policy makers must bear in mind that we air travellers have a vote and we are highly likely to use it.

The Chancellor is desperate to avoid the onslaught of the inevitable economic collapse due to high house prices and public borrowing. He has already raided our purses this year to the tune of £1 billion on air taxes, not of course forgetting that we have already paid income tax, council tax, road tax, VAT....

  • 14.
  • At 02:49 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • W Boucher wrote:

Airline fuel should be taxed. But as it happens, the current air passenger duty is just about the level it should be to cover a sensible suggested carbon tax (just check out any of the zillion websites that give numbers). Of course air passenger duty is a crude carbon tax because it is not directly related to airline fuel consumed. If and when airline fuel is taxed then air passenger duty should be reduced or dropped all together. If and when airline fuel is taxed then Ryanair will do quite well in comparison to its competitors, because it is more efficient.

It's unfortunate that a government minister has chosen to denigrate one of the world's best and most efficient transport companies. Presumably he wants Ryanair to become as crap and inefficient and expensive as all the useless train companies that exist in the UK. Note that train companies receive big subsidies, and this in effect amounts to a carbon subsidy, i.e. a negative carbon tax. The only transport users who currently pay a real carbon tax are car drivers (via fuel duty), and they pay way over what any sensible carbon tax would be.

If the UK ruling elite (including government ministers and the BBC) so hate airline travel then they should pledge that they themselves will never fly. What the UK ruling elite (including the so-called environmentalists) really hate is that ordinary people now have the ability to fly, and that was once the preserve of the ruling elite. There's nothing worse for a government minister than flying on a junket to New York and having to share a plane with a bunch of peasants.

  • 15.
  • At 02:50 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Andrzej wrote:

Ryanair are an easy target because they are Irish and the environment is a worthy excuse for another tax.

  • 16.
  • At 02:52 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • john baines wrote:

While I accept that airline passengers should pay to offset the carbon emissions they create, this debate seems to suggest that air travel is a major cause of global warming. It is a cause, but a much bigger source of CO2 for the UK is housing. Why is there not the same clamour for reducing energy use in homes, particularly heating, cooling and running electrical appliances?

We need to look at the major sources of CO2 and tackle those, rather than spend all our energies on the smaller stuff. Tackling the household emissions would be far more effective in reducing our CO2 emissions. So how about getting to grips with this - not just telling us to turn off unused lights and equipment on stand-by.

  • 17.
  • At 02:57 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Mike wrote:

Why tax anymore?
I ask this because taxing does not end the cause of the problem. Taxing just enhances government coffers and we are not informed as to what that specific tax is going to be spent on.
Also to tax air travel would be excluding ordinary people from traveling. Rich people don't care and they demonstrate this time and time again by buying Ferrari, Lamborghini and Rolls Royce cars.

It would be much better to go back to basics and decide what is necessary. I will give you a fair example.
Christmas Crackers.

The majority of crackers contain rubbish that is disposed of immediately upon opening of the cracker. I mean how many laughs can a green plastic moustache yield before it no longer is funny. This is just a trivial example but we all know of more examples that are potentially more damaging to the environment than a Christmas Cracker. We just have to decide which we want and which we don’t. For me I shall happily forgo the Cracker in favour of flying.
We can’t get rid of all carbon emissions but we can all make a difference.
I would point out as a footnote that we in England don’t want to pay for everyone else’s pollution. We are already paying through the nose.

  • 18.
  • At 02:57 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Mike Armitage wrote:

Why is it that a Ryanair plane which is 90% full and 2 years old, pays 80% more duty than the same size of BA plane that is half full and much older?

The tax should be on fuel emmisions and this would encourage airlines to be more efficient and stop flying half empty planes.

It couldn't be that the high fares airlines have the ear of the government could it?

  • 19.
  • At 02:59 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Ian Smith wrote:

Put simply, until the politicians have a way of dealing with the CO2 pollution from China, India and the US we should be doing NOTHING more. Focus on the real problems and maybe we can make progress - however pointless gestures which do nothing to address those real issues just cloud the issue.

As a start, let's see 50% import tax on goods and services from countries which are increasing their CO2 output. If the politicians aren't gutsy enough to tell the WTO where to get off, then they have no right telling the rest of us to suffer for their incompetence.

  • 20.
  • At 03:01 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Jean wrote:

Budget airlines generally fly almost full - which is surely a more efficient use of energy than many 'regular' air operators....why should only the rich and business users be able to fly? All power to Ryanair et al.

  • 21.
  • At 03:01 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Roger Crawford wrote:

Would all those posting negative comments about airlines please also attach the complaing emails/letters they have sent to the Chinese goverment/embassy in respect of opening a coal-fired power station every week.

If they haven't sent such correspondence to a far more damaging source then can they kindly stop their double standards?

  • 22.
  • At 03:02 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Keith wrote:

I work in London and, preposterously, yesterday I considering taking a plane to get to Birmingham because it was cheaper than the train.

This is lunacy. It's not just the flight prices are so cheap - it's that our train network is so hideously expensive.

Capitalism is great - but we have to accept it needs a helping hand from time to time from the government. This is one of those times.

  • 23.
  • At 03:02 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Pete wrote:

It makes me furious that the government and the other political parties harp on that we should all use rail to travel. Earlier this week I took a Virgin train to Birmingham, horrendous journey. One virtually empty 1st class carriage at the front, the remaining three carriages which included the buffy car were crammed. Impossible to get a seat, no room for luggage, toilets unpleasant and worst of all, expensive.

I happened to be going to the airport at the time, to fly home to N'Ireland after visiting family in England. To do this journey either by train or car (both journeys also involving a trip on a pollution belching ferry) would be incredibly costly, time consumimg and produce as far as I can judge an equally large carbon foot print.

And one other thing, at least on the plane you are guaranteed to get a seat and a decent cup of tea.

  • 24.
  • At 03:03 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • SHELLEY wrote:

we live on an island surrounded by water. perhaps we should become vikings and take to the water in our rowing boats, though perhaps our annual hoilday leave will need extending! people want to travel, need to travel and will travel! just another think tank excuse to pillage the pockets of the nation, as none of this cash will be put back into research for better transport designs.

  • 25.
  • At 03:04 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Anne Roberts wrote:

The Minister's comments about the airlines are all well and good, and it is difficult to disagree with them, however in a week which saw the announcement of rail fares rising yet again way above the level of inflation is it any wonder that nobody wants to use the trains? I recently investigated the cost of a weekend return trip to Glasgow from Cardiff, and how long it would take. National Rail Helpline result was that it would cost me £165 and the trip in one direction would involve 3 changes, taking 8 hours. The plane fair is £65 return and takes an hour. I'm sorry but as long as this remains the case we will continue to fly and is it any wonder?

  • 26.
  • At 03:04 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Huigh Rivington wrote:

Of course air travel is too cheap. It is ludicrous that people can fly off to Europe for the weekend for so little. Raise the fuel tax now.

  • 27.
  • At 03:05 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Ian Harbison wrote:

But what are the environmental costs of railways? CO2 emissions data are the responsibility of DEFRA, which says none is available for the electricity consumption by railway companies. RATP in Paris say the Metro is the second biggest customer for EDF in the Ile de France region - the biggest is SNCF. Emissions for diesel trains are also missing.

CO2 emissions per passenger are available for planes and cars, but trains are hailed as cleaner with no hard evidence.

  • 28.
  • At 03:07 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Paul Beckitt wrote:

Compared to car travel, industry and consumers, air travel is only a minor contributor to greenhouse gases. The hot air produced by Labour ministers' rhetoric on climate change is far more damaging to the environment than any airline company.

The problem is that green air taxes have not been properly thought through by government.
Two questions:
1) Will green air taxes reduce the number of flights in the air?
2) Will the resulting revenue go towards green projects?
The answer to both is: probably not.

  • 30.
  • At 03:10 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Chris wrote:

I totally agree with all of the comments regarding the govt's joined up thinking.

Maybe if the politicians are truly interested in being environmentally friendly they will stop hitting rail passengers the hardest.

A genuine green tax would be seeking to change behaviour and thus would have an attached target to reach. The proposed 'green taxes' are simply regular old-fashioned cash-grab taxes aimed to fund a bloated big government system and appease socialists.

So let's cut the pretence about trying to help the environment please.

  • 32.
  • At 03:11 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Ben Day wrote:

the future for travel has to be in the most "carbon efficient" way, and there appears to be a whole host of studies to support the fact that short-haul flying isn't it! Whilst of course the politicans are only doing what is politically expedient, I believe that this is the correct option. Nobody should be flying to Tallin for £2 and not have the effects on the environment for their children and their children's children at the back of their mind. Where is the cross-generational empathy? We all need to travel less, and live calmer lives. Travel does broaden the mind, but then so does understanding where you are from.

  • 33.
  • At 03:12 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Gary wrote:

Could the Steven Norris mentioned in this piece be the same one who is a director of a number of bus and rail companies and Chairman of Jarvis, a company heavily involved in rail infrastructure operations? Or indeed the Steven Norris who, as Director General of the Road Haulage Association, successfully argued against the "fuel tax escalator" but who now believes it should be re-introduced? I think we should be told. Heaven forbid we might think he had a vested interest.

If the Government were serious about carbon taxing they would make it neutral. £1 on to aircraft but £1 off railways. The fact that they don't can only fuel my suspicion that a 'green' tax is simply another tax.

I am also worried at the continual comparison between the british and french railways. Britain is a small place, trains stop every twenty minutes. It is fine for high speed routes such as Paris/Marseilles butsurely what the uk needs is reliability and capacity rather than shaving 20 minutes from the London/Manchester route.

  • 35.
  • At 03:18 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • john a wrote:

The minister should realise that as his government "grows the economy" and we need an even greater population to sustain it this must inevitably lead to more people wanting to travel. We can see one of the results of this in huge rail fare increases, apparently to reduce the number of users. And this is joined up government!!!!!

  • 36.
  • At 03:18 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Sue wrote:

Why not go back to horse and buggy? Your government's answer to all the world's environmental problems is to tax the people. Why not come up with a sound strategy that does not involve taxes and will work? Your rail system is terrible in comparison to other countries, talk about expensive. It is ridiculous, not to mention completely unreliable.

  • 37.
  • At 03:20 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Tom wrote:

UK Daily Pundit writes that it's the left's hatred of capitalism that is behind the 'worldwide green campaign'.

A more common perspective among business leaders themselves is that environmental and sustainability issues are inseperable from business performance. For confirmation of this see the websites of groups such as World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Global Reporting Initiative and UN Global Compact. Not exactly your typical nest of trotskyites.

A corporate executive that today ignores the environment and related issues will soon find himself or herself in the dark after everyone has left and turned the lights off.

  • 38.
  • At 03:21 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Gid wrote:

I agree with Giles cheaper more effective trains would increase the amount of people travelling on them, although the huge debts that Eurostar enjoys are not maybe the best way to illustrate this point!

I really get annoyed with the way the answer to every problem in Britain is to charge us more money, to rip us off even more. I am happy to pay more for airfairs, and am concerned about the environment, but the balance needs to be re-addressed by lowering taxes in other areas.

  • 39.
  • At 03:21 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Sue wrote:

Why not go back to horse and buggy? Your government's answer to all the world's environmental problems is to tax the people. Why not come up with a sound strategy that does not involve taxes and will work? Your rail system is terrible in comparison to other countries, talk about expensive. It is ridiculous, not to mention completely unreliable.

  • 40.
  • At 03:24 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Weary Pedant wrote:

So Ryanairs flights are a small problem compared to China's power stations? Does that mean I can leave my light bulbs on all night because they are a miniscule addition to the problem?
For someone who is probably keen to drive margins back, I think he should recognise the adage "every little helps".

  • 41.
  • At 03:26 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Tattie Hamilton wrote:

Ian Pearson is right to tackle Ryanair's unrepentant attitude. But its not just the airlines that need to change - what about Tony Blair's long haul exotic winter holiday? You can't tackle climate change if everyone in the world decided it was their right to do the same.

  • 42.
  • At 03:27 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Martin wrote:

Unless reasonable alternatives to short-haul air travel are provided, the proposed & current increased taxes are quite simply a fund generation exercise by our cash strapped government.

  • 43.
  • At 03:30 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Martin wrote:

I agree with everyones comments about using the railways more, but I recently read that extensions to trains and platforms etc will cost millions and no-one will put their hand in their pocket to pay for it. Also to get a good train service lots of new lines will be needed - for example making the London Edinburgh route 4 track all the way - this will impact the countryside and towns etc, with all the fuss and delays caused by planning enquiries it will take many years to get it sorted out. This island is overcrowded and there are no easy answers.

  • 44.
  • At 03:33 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Simon wrote:

The government want to cut down air travel to 'save the planet'. Fair enough. So why are they building new runways at Stansted and Heathrow and increasing the number of flights. Well, of course, we all know the answer. They say they are against more flights but actually are going to tax the life out of them with no objection to an increase in the number of flights. They need the money and this is just another way of raising it under the pretence of being green.

  • 45.
  • At 03:34 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Paul McLaughlin wrote:

In the end if taxes on air travel keep being increased the only people travelling will be the rich. The only aircraft being used will be private Lear Jets plus of course war planes over Iraq.

If we want to limit air travel fairly, every member of the public should be given an allowance of air travel mileage which they can use or sell to someone who wants it. This will keep a limit on air travel without making it the preserve of the rich.

  • 46.
  • At 03:43 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Philip Porter wrote:

Given the Government's policy of massive expansion of the aviation industry in the UK confirmed in the latest aviation White Paper review (3rd runway at Heathrow, 2nd at Stanstead, threefold increase in flights at Luton etc.) I think its a bit rich for a Government minister to start wailing in this fashion!

This is another example that highlights conflicting Labour Party views and policy and yet more evidence that the Government hasn't really got a clue how to control carbon emissions - yes airlines need to sort themselves out in this regard rather than engaging in the "blame China" game (and lets face it, we in the West are driving demand for much of what China is producing at high carbon cost), but you cant have it both ways Mr Pearson - and given the lack of investment in public transport by this Government and their proposals to cover the South-East in homes that are subject to no regulation in terms of their energy efficiency (despite what Ruth Kelly might have us believe), the Government ought to be looking in its own back yard for the ultimate source of our profligate emissions.

  • 47.
  • At 03:44 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Tony wrote:

Giles, define a short journey.
AV, it is not neccesarily overseas travel.

I work in Southampton, not by choice, but beacause my employer (our government) insists I do so.

My home is in Scotland.

Flying is the only sensible option to travel.

It costs about £60 return to fly, and takes 1 hour. Last Christmas I decided to be green and take the train. It cost more than £100 return and was supposed to take 9 hours. The train was overcrowded, and dirty. All the toilets were blocked and the stench of raw sewage was disgusting. To cap it all the train broke down, and the only option from the rail company was to wait at Birmingham for the nest train (at 6 am the next morning)meaning my 9 hour journey would now take 19 hours. Instead I took the next available northbound train and got off at Preston and spent the night at my parents. When I wrote to complain the train operator sent me a 20 voucher for my next journey.

Air travel passengers are protected by international convention. They have legal resposibilites for their passengers the train companies just see us as an inconvenience.

  • 48.
  • At 03:45 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Robin Hicks wrote:

Strange how many snipe at Ryanair - really good value and reliable - so why the gripes? The fire in Borneo, the Chinese power plants indeed the US low cost gas prices all have an important impact - so why Mr O'Leary all the time.
Perhaps everyone is secrety ashamed of paying €40 with Ryanair rather than 10 times as much for the huge corporations which run planes for the rich and their own profit!

And loud applause about the TGV - what can be the possible justification for a plane costing so much less between London and Glasgow than a train?

Nick - If this government had any idea how to deal with climate change they would stop threatening to tax cows' farts (as one minister did to the Oxford farmers' conference earlier this week) and making grandstanding attacks on budget airlines and get on with investing in the railways, other forms of public transport, cycle lanes, solar and wind power and taxing SUVs out of existence.

  • 50.
  • At 03:46 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Nick wrote:

If the government was really concerned about environmental impact there would be much more focus on low energy light bulbs, insulating homes and redcucing commuting.

As it is they're picking on a bandwagon target which makes a comparatively tiny difference to the countries carbon usage. To make a difference all travel (and in fact all energy usage) should have an evironmental impact tax applied equally.

  • 51.
  • At 03:51 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Paul Johnson wrote:

I watched An Inconvenient Truth on DVD last night and would encourage everyone getting involved in this debate to do the same.

  • 52.
  • At 03:52 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Charles E. Hardwidge wrote:

I think, the issue of demand, the environment, and taxation are important issues, as has been mentioned. Personally, I favour a flat tax regime, outcomes moderated by regulation, and some consideration for the fact that people just find work, play, and people abroad is more interesting and pleasant than home.

Tax is an easy but lazy solution. Regulation can impose quotas. A fair point of sale system could allocate on need or random lottery, and more investment in making Britain’s environment, architecture, and general tone of public life more attractive seems more useful and consistent a philosophy to me.

I don’t like the way the rich game the system by paying less tax and buying advantage. The environment and the air travel that flows from it is a shared resource, and taxation as a moderator distorts business decisions and creates a tilted playing field. A better incomes and investment policy would help avoid this.

  • 53.
  • At 03:54 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Patrick wrote:

All this hype about Aircraft being the biggest contributors to global warming is just that hype. Designed to make people feel guilty about flying, and to support the Government's excuse to tax us more.

Today's modern aircraft are cleaner and more efficient than the earlier models and are becoming cleaner and more efficient with each succeeding model.

Where will all these so called green taxes go, what will they be used for. Will they be used to encourage industry and manufacturers to clean up their acts and produce less pollution and less polluting motors. Will they be used to build less polluting forms of generating plants. I wouldn't hold your breath.

  • 54.
  • At 03:58 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Vladimir Plouzhnikov wrote:

The air travel is not a serious cause of pollution.

The new "green" tax has as much to do with the environment as a racketeering gang has with the "protection" it offers. It's just tax - to plug the holes in the Greatest Ever Chancellor's leaking budget.

The minister in question is just furious that someone has stood up to him and made his comfy cabinet life difficult.

Please, people, stop being so naive.

  • 55.
  • At 03:59 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • David wrote:

Airlines which offer cheaper fares to travel on a indirect route are probably more of an issue. Everyday thousands of people will be visiting airports they do need to and inturn increasing the number of take offs and landings. eg London to New York via Detroit may be cheaper than a direct flight.

Yes, air travel needs to account for its environmental costs... but so does everything else we do. It's terribly important, however that we all do it together or the ethical suffer while the profit hungry gain - that's why governments need to work on this and also need to do multilaterally. We especially need to bring the more polluting countries into these agreements.

It's interesting to see that it's not budget airlines per se that have a problem with carbon trading. It's really just Ryanair and some other players. easyJet is a budget airline (and a nice, relatively ethical one at that) which has cheerfully supported the idea of carbon trading.

Of course, the key to budget airlines isn't really their low fares - its the transparency of pricing. Why should I pay a fortune if I want to go one way, or if I need some flexibility. The mistake Ryanair seem to make is to believe that it's all down to cost and profit, whereas business is really also about service and ethics. I believe in the long term they could suffer.

  • 57.
  • At 04:01 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Amy wrote:

Hike up taxes on airlines and subsidise and improve the railways. People will choose to holiday in the UK instead of abroad, boosting tourism and putting money back into the economy. And of course, reducing carbon emissions.

  • 58.
  • At 04:04 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Nick wrote:

I am sick of all the discussion about flying. One of the largest contributors to carbon emissions is the world's livestock. If the governments of the world put as much effort into encouraging people to eat less meat as they do in slagging off cheap airlines, the emissions problem could be seriously reduced at a stroke.

  • 59.
  • At 04:09 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Steve Bean wrote:

Of course a flight for £1 or less doesn't represent the 'true cost'. The whole point is that these airlines manage their yields so that each aircraft travels with a balance of fare payers so that each flight covers its cost and makes a profit. Very few passengers per flight pay £1 or less.

If the £1 tickets were banned, the aircraft would just go with a handful of empty seats and Ryanair would make about a fiver less per plane load. How does that benefit the environment?

Get real people! By all means tax fuel or emissions but don't kid yourselves that silly fare promotions are the problem.

  • 60.
  • At 04:09 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Steve wrote:

Maybe some people should dig out the Tony Crosland biography about when he was attacked as Environment Secretary by the blue blooded environmentalists for allowing package holidays - ie allowing the less well off to do what they had been doing for years. I tire of the arguments that somehow it is OK for those that can afford it to travel abroad but that the great unwashed are doing damage by doing the same thing. We've been to Florence, Turin and Carcassonne now let's pull the ladder up and stop the oiks following us.

  • 61.
  • At 04:10 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Dave wrote:

Ok, so we have seen a 1/2 degree rise in temperatures in the last 20-30 years. The predictions of catastrophic climate change are all based on positive feedback in the climate, which anyone who has studied control theory will tell you would lead to an unstable climate, and, if you follow the theories through, would have meant the emissions from Krakatoa would have destabilised the world climate.

In 20-30 years when the sun-spot cycles that we are currently seeing have gone away and climates have changed again to be colder than at the moment, the green nuts will be busy campaigning for another way to send us back to the dark ages, and all the green taxes will remain to bolster the goverment coffers.

Overall the only people to lose from this whole affair will be the working class masses. Small tax hikes will not stop the rich from flying.

  • 62.
  • At 04:11 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • johntopping wrote:

Change what you can and dont ry and change what you cannot.

Ryanair is in the EU china is china it will change when its people realise what is hapenning we could wait till then but we know what is happening now. If we do not act then buy the time the enviroment becomes an issue to poluting nations it could be too late.

I would go further tax all planes landing in the EU based upon occupancy and distance travelled- maybe that will stop george visiting.

  • 63.
  • At 04:15 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Katie wrote:

All I'm hearing, here, leads me to an assurance that those of us who are less well-off - I personally have an income of just £70 a week as I'm disabled and can only work for very short periods of time - will never be able to afford to cross the Atlantic or the Pacific in a way that's conducive to maintaining any real state of health. I've wanted to travel since I was very small, and having my carer come with me will soon be impossibly expensive if costs rise as they are predicted to do. I use public transport within the UK and when I am outside it whenever I need to travel. I never fly within the UK - I take trains and buses. And now I'm going to be taxed out of being able to see the members of my family who have emigrated to Canada anything more than once every ten years? Quite simply, this is ridiculous. There's got to be another way.

  • 64.
  • At 04:15 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Chris Hughes wrote:

I was never consulted on whether I wanted to be taxed out of a nice holiday. There is much more that can be done before all this to cope with climate change than these measures. Surely its an irony to save the world by preventing people from seeing any of it?

The argument over whether air travel is sufficiently taxed surely depends on whether the government wishes to incentivise it. Whilst there are arguments in favour of making the airlines carry a larger burden in taxes in order to reduce emissions, there is no doubt that a strong airline industry (and a low-cost one at that) is good for the economy.

One could also say that as oil prices rise (which they undoubtedly will) this provides the industry its own incentive for reducing emissions. Isn't that the "acceptable" face of capitalism?

  • 66.
  • At 04:18 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Eileen wrote:

This is also a tax on people on lower incomes. The rich will continue to fly whatever the cost.

Perhaps the Government should also be taxing private jets, which cause far more pollution per person.

And who was it first said "there's no such thing as a free lunch"?....

... Milton Friedman wrote a book with this title.

Please let's not go back to the old capitalist / socialist arguements from the industrial age that created our environmental problems.

Both philosophies created climate change and both have something to contribute in fixing it.

  • 68.
  • At 04:23 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • DAVID SEVIER wrote:

It is likely to turn out that Ryan Air's stance is correct. The level of CO2 is already dangerously high and rising. In the grand scheme of things, his airline's emmissions are not that large. Basically, we are already done in unless the existing CO2 in the atmosphre is removed. Once we can do this, Ryan Air emissions will simply be removed. I am a researcher in this area and we are VERY close to making low energy air capture of carbon dioxide a working reality. We are going to remove and store billions of tonnes of carbon and end the green house problem.

  • 69.
  • At 04:25 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Richard wrote:

I travel extensively on low-cost airlines: they provide an excellent service. Each time I buy a ticket I also purchase an appropriate carbon offset product - an option open to everyone who really cares about emissions rather than simply criticising others. If government wishes to address the issue constructively, they should force the aircraft manufacturers to improve efficiency - rather as has been done for motor vehicles (particularly in California). They could also tackle the farming lobby (which generates far more pollution than airplanes) rather than continuing to subsidise it so blindly.

  • 70.
  • At 04:26 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Clair wrote:

I travellled from City Airport to Rotterdam in 48 minutes. I travelled from Bedford to London(58 miles) in 1 hour. thats why people use planes and not trains, sort out the rails and get trucks off the road, that will reduce emmissions. it rather feels like the government are totally stupid sometimes- oh wait thats all the time!

  • 71.
  • At 04:33 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Gordon B wrote:

Tax seems to be the answer to the environmental problem apparently...

I should also point out that you can only travel by train to short haul European destinations in a reasonable amount of time if you're in the South East of England - what about the rest of the UK?!

  • 72.
  • At 04:34 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Chris P wrote:

I find the attitude of some of the airlines remarkably hypocritical. They are only being asked to play by the same rules as other carbon-intensive industries in Europe. Furthermore, initial signs suggest they will be entering the emissions trading scheme under terms more favourable than other industries. Also, because the trading scheme currently focuses only on C02, ignoring other greenhouse gases, airlines will only have to obtain emissions for approximately half of their CO2 equivalent greenhouse contribution.

I am glad to see that Richard Branson, at least, seems to be taking the issue seriously and constructively.

  • 73.
  • At 04:35 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Anonymous wrote:

Tax more on airlines to encourage us onto the rail? So the extra cash will be used to subsidise rail eh? Maybe not.

Last week's news was full of stories about inflation-busting train price hikes and how it's 3 times as expensive per mile as the continent. Which especially grates as the train industry is a privatised monopoly making obscene profits. Why don't they use some of them to 'Implement important improvements to the railways' instead of shoving up prices again?

It is strikingly obvious that increasing taxes on air travel won't lower demand, as the rail prices are also constantly increasing from their already hidiously overpriced position.

The government will just make more money in taxes at the expense of a less mobile workforce, less likely to travel at all- which is not good news for anybody, unless you happen to own property in central London.

  • 74.
  • At 04:35 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Jill wrote:

While the national economy requires export, there will be a need to travel. Contract prices are reducing due to cheaper bids from rising economies. BA business class prices are unaffordable for most business travellers. Economy prices in most 'standard' airlines leave you with huge queues, little sympathy and the 'occasional' travellers who are expecting premium service and not getting it. So sensible business travellers go somewhere where they understand operational management at the customer processing end. National economy wins. Individual lives. Remove the option and you can say goodbye to EU projects, Asian development and most other 'glamour'.

  • 75.
  • At 04:36 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Robert wrote:

The cheap cost of air travel is ridiculous. It's the worst example of us paying way below the real cost of things. Of course, we all love it, but it just can't go on. And Ryanair's arguments are laughable to anyone with half a brain.

But who can blame us for taking cheap flights when ticket prices are going up up up and service is... err... not?

Tax up on air travel, tax down on greener alternatives and investment in the railways. There, that wasn't so hard, was it?

  • 76.
  • At 04:37 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Denis Scharrer wrote:

I wonder if this same minister has looked at how much the government spends on flying politicians and their vast entourages around the world for meaningless meetings - another source of hot air that could be drastically reduced! - besides trains in the UK are expensive and unreliable but that could be because Prescott was the initiator of the so called Integrated Transport Policy and managed to achieve....well nothing!

  • 77.
  • At 04:38 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Tom Henry wrote:

Tax more on airlines to encourage us onto the rail? So the extra cash will be used to subsidise rail eh? Maybe not.

Last week's news was full of stories about inflation-busting train price hikes and how it's 3 times as expensive per mile as the continent. Which especially grates as the train industry is a privatised monopoly making obscene profits. Why don't they use some of them to 'Implement important improvements to the railways' instead of shoving up prices again?

It is strikingly obvious that increasing taxes on air travel won't lower demand, as the rail prices are also constantly increasing from their already hidiously overpriced position.

The government will just make more money in taxes at the expense of a less mobile workforce, less likely to travel at all- which is not good news for anybody, unless you happen to own property in central London.

Fine. What about tiny island nations such as Malta?

We can't take the eco-friendly train to go anywhere, air travel is our ONLY possibility. This nonsensical crusade against low-cost airline will hit us immensely, much more than it will hit the overpaid bureaucrat sitting pretty in landlocked Brussels.

I'm sure that such taxes will come to pass, since no Government exists which resists temptation to grab more money. It will be European economy that will suffer.

  • 79.
  • At 04:45 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Marilyn Drawwater wrote:

When is someone going to wake up and realise that there is no point in cutting our emissions when we carry on sending things into space? Am I the only person who can see that they go THROUGH the ozone layer - is this not likely to cause a hole or am I missing something here?

My partner and I took a short break in Scotland last year. Flying from Cardiff to Glasgow was - I kid ye not - less than half the price of taking the train. No, it wasn't a "bargain" flight, either. On our income, we simply cannot afford to be green.

Of course, we could have simply not travelled at all. But answer me this; if future generations are not going to be able to holiday in Taliin either, then what exactly are we saving the planet *for*? At the moment it just feels like we're considering leaving that last slice of cake on the plate for the next guy. If he eats it, there'll still be no more cake. I'd like more talk about how we're going to bake more cake.

  • 81.
  • At 04:49 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Jules wrote:

This offends me, if this goes ahead, yet again the poorer people are left worse off. What is more money going to do to help climate change? does more money to government all of a sudden reverse the greenhouse effect? I dont think so... Why dont they bring in some sort of scheme where people have to plant trees or do some enviro friendly thing before they can qualify for a flight. If the person has enough money they can pay for this to be done for them. I just think its totally unfair to make things that are only available to well off people.

  • 82.
  • At 04:49 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Jill wrote:

Giles comment on Eurostar is worth highlighting. The advance fares (not the main ones) are good value and all the more so if you have to price in (as I did recently) a Sunday transfer by taxi from Paddington - OW!!!!

Also, I have recently cancelled two meetings 'up North' (Manchester and Newcastle) as getting there at the appointed hours by train is just too expensive and, on recent experience, unreliable. There is no online replacement for what contacts might have been. Car is cheaper but one also needs to service existing contracts and sleep.

  • 83.
  • At 04:50 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • tom wrote:

To those who complain that this is unfair unless the trains are improved to compensate:

Travel is not a right, it is a luxary that we must learn to live with less of if hope to manage climate change or the comming energy crisis.

  • 84.
  • At 04:54 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Chriswsm wrote:

There have been discussions of charging motorists per mile travelled. I think this idea should be cascaded across all forms of polluting transport with an additional cost against factors that make the pollution worse. For example flying Bristol to Glasgow carries a hefty extra charge because a train is possible for the same journey where a flight to Dublin carries a smaller charge as it would require more than one other form of transport.

Cars on the motorway are charged per mile with a large additional charge per mile if they exceed 55mph and a ban if they exceed the max speed limit.

Trains are charged per mile with a reduction in cost beyond a certain distance (100 miles for example) to encourage use.

The funds raised will be prioritised towards friendly, clean and efficient transport and plenty of safe cycle lanes.

  • 85.
  • At 04:58 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • justin wrote:

Two things, which are related: (1)policy execution must be consistent with the aims of that policy, ie if the goal is to reduce greenhouse gases, which is a global not alas purely UK issue, then our energies must start with the biggest problems, not with the very very low % of the overall problem that is air travel; and (2) the system should target greehouse gas emissions, not air travel per se - O'Leary has a point, he spends x bn US dollars on new planes with lots of seats that consume much less fuel per passenger km than those owned by BA, Alitalia, Iberia, you name it, and yet - bizzarely, or maybe not, just more lazy/spin driven/rather stupid politicians - the passenger tax is the same for each, so his reward for replacing old BA capacity with fuel-guzzlers with his brand new efficient planes is precisely zero. And meanwhile of course we'll run around convinced we are saving the planet on this issue and conveniently forget the rather more delicate yet much larger issue of both UK power consumption in daily living and international growth. Nothing like a bite-sized policy for bite-sized brains.

  • 86.
  • At 04:59 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Rod Thrower wrote:

When will somone admit that increasing the cost of air travel by £5 is going to make NO difference whatsoever to climate change? Only a reduction in emissions or air travel will improve the situation. The extra charges are purely another stealth tax, masquerading as an environmentally friendly move - unless of course, all the £5s collected are to be used to rebuild the hole in the ozone layer?

  • 87.
  • At 05:01 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Macca wrote:

Could someone please explain how you can take a train from Belfast to elsewhere in the UK ?

  • 88.
  • At 05:01 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • stephen sinclair wrote:

Hey why not take first class seats out and then fill the plane more that would be carbon friendly. But hang on, didn't Blair and his family travel first class, not very friendly that.

  • 89.
  • At 05:05 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Brian wrote:

Yesterday I travelled over a mile as the only passenger on a London bus. That was considerably more damaging to the environment than a mile travelled on a packed budget airline jet.

And don't think high speed trains are good for the environment, they use an awful lot of electricity and that has to be generated at a coal, oil or nuclear power station.

  • 90.
  • At 05:07 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Ian Brown wrote:

I am probably being unduly cynical but governments of all polical persuasions have used and do use the enmvironmental argument as an excuse to raise yet more taxes. Remember Ken Clarke and the fuel escalator tax ? Once out of office he readily admitted it had had absolutely nothing to do with an environmental agenda but was a convenient excuse to simply raise more money in taxation. Will this current government earmark green taxation specifically for a green agenda ? I very much doubt it, it will be swallowed up by the treasury as per usual. In rather the same way, will the recent doubling of airport tax be reversed once the airlines are taxed harder ? Again, I very much doubt it.

The fact of the matter is that mounting illegal invasions of other countries is an extremely expensive business. So keep working and keep paying your taxes. It is also worth bearing in mind that this current goverment only managed to poll 22 % of the possible votes in the UK. Mandate, what mandate ?

  • 91.
  • At 05:08 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Linda wrote:

Greenhouse gases emitted at high altitude are far more damaging to the environment - and water vapour (condensation trails) is the worst of all. For those who doubt the effect of CO2 on the planet, an analogy might be that of sitting in the garage with the car engine running - most of us recognise this is not safe to do - so why are we content to keep emitting it to the Earth's closed atmosphere? Particularly as we keep cutting down forests that recycle the CO2?

And time-saving flights? Really? By the time you add travelling to/from airport plus check in times/baggage collection then I think you might find the 'saving' is not so great on many shorthaul services. As more people fly, the chaos at airports continues to grow; just how many more planes can air traffic controllers in Europe deal with safely?

  • 92.
  • At 05:09 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Gavin wrote:

How is train travel under-taxed? It is subsidised! And yet it is still vastly more expensive to use. The alternative to air flights if they are taxed more? The car. Cheapest, most convenient, most reliable, and even worse for the environment. Trains would have to be far cheaper to get me to use them - but no-one is really interested in reducing carbon emissions and the cost of carbon-efficient travel. Until they are, I won't be made to feel guity for flying or driving.

  • 93.
  • At 05:19 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Claudia wrote:

Briefly I don't have time to waste on career politicians. I have work to do-and resent having my blood pressure raised by idiots.
re Mr Pearson=name sounds lowland scots-
ie the source of woes for many indiginous groups from Washington State to Namibia.

How long you must have waited to disparage those nasty OIRISH Catholics ie Ryanair-(incidently the only succesful airline company with close to a 100% fleet of new aircraft-ergo effective and relative low emmitting emgines)
I surmise that had the scots and that other chauvenistic colony to the south west-not been so jealous and indeed parasitic on Mother England-by cowering under the skirts of the English taxpayer-they could by now -have one decent company between them-
(instead of asking for hand-outs to build 'parliament' white elephants and assembly teepees).

Mr Pearson---have you heard of that old and failed polluter-British Caledonian----

  • 94.
  • At 05:21 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Greg wrote:

regarding blog 14.

Q: By your calculation, what % of total UK Carbon Emissions will come from aviation in 2050? If you knew the answer you would not be so naive yourself!

  • 95.
  • At 05:21 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Kalel wrote:

As many of the comments point out. WHY dont the government do something about making rail travel affordable! simply increasing air prices, which maybe ok, leaves many without the abilty to travel without resorting to road. the latter being one of teh prime carbon problems, before even considering congestion.

I imagine however bright sparks in the civil service will react to road issues byb creating road charges! making it impossible for some people to travel at all. Perhaps we all need to revert back to horses? Why cant politicians be foreward thinking, make rail affordable and viable. Build more railway and take it out of private hands so it doesnt need to make a profit. It will be profitable based on its contribution to climate change reduction and the benefits to the economy of being able to travel around.

  • 96.
  • At 05:24 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Mark Ladson wrote:

This debate is just like going round in circles. A few days ago rail operators announced above inflation fare increases on already overpriced fares. Its obvious why the budget flight market is booming! Its too expensive to travel by rail both in England and into Europe. I would rather travel by rail than fly because i would appreciate the scenery etc. but, i cannot afford it. All English rail tickets are stupidly complicated and overpriced and Eurostar is generally more expensive than flying. Ban budget flights and stop me traveling, make it the preserve of the rich like in days long gone. Does that demonstrate Britain going forward then?

  • 97.
  • At 05:25 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Charlie Perryman wrote:

While it is important to combat climate change and move away damaging forms of transport. Every solution offered by politicians, seems to be punitive. If they want less domestic flights and more rail transport then they should consider the radical approach of slowing the annual hike of rail ticket prices and act on their plans for development of the rail network. If the planned expenditure on airports was channelled into the rail network and the Govt considered freezing or subsidizing rail fares that would have a more effective result in the lonbg term.

  • 98.
  • At 05:25 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • kevin wrote:

By undertaxing the aviation industry the govt is giving breaks to the rich and burdening the poor, who pick up these shortfalls in their heating and power bills each month.

Ryanair's tact is that same argument used for centuries by shameless profiteers - 'we're better than those guys, our competitors' - and the China argument is lowest-denominator buck-passing. Its time these industries got 'with us' rather than 'against us' on its responsibilities to the people of this planet.

  • 99.
  • At 05:43 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Tony Stevens wrote:

It is all very well going on about how railways are an alternative to air for UK & international travel. In most cases they are only available to the minority of the population who live within striking distance of London.
Eurostar is out of the question from the Midlands (about 2 hours to London by train & then you have to cross London by tube or taxi -more time & cost).
Air travel is available from a large number of regional airports, many only 30 to 50 minutes travelling time from large populations.
I am not pro-air travel, I hate the whole business of exorbitant parking charges, check-in, being treated like cattle etc. etc., but in many cases there is no alternative at a reasonable cost.

  • 100.
  • At 05:49 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Rob Davies wrote:

To be fair the government should impose a tax on rail tickets in proportion to the carbon generated by the power stations that generate the electricity to run the trains. Why tax only one form of transport when all of them consume fossil fuels? Or would even higher train fares expose the inefficiency of trains versus planes.

  • 101.
  • At 05:53 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Martin Ward wrote:

Unfortunately the UK has an infrastructure that demands low cost airtravel for business success. It is cheaper to fly from the south east of England or Scotland to Stockholm or Athens to do business than drive to Birmingham, let alone taking the train. Yet when in Europe it is much cheaper and more time efficient to take the train for journeys up to 400 miles. However our creaking rail infrasturucture is already full to bursting and prices can rise with minimal effect on passenger numbers so there is absolutely no incentive for the government to subsidise rail travel. The UK is a knowledge/service based economy that is export lead and air travel is a must.

Higher taxes on low cost air travel will have a major adverse effect on many businesses. Will Gordon Brown jeopardise employment and tax income for a green issue? Probably not, so encouraging low cost airlines to invest in fuel efficient planes with an active market for carbon trading is the way to go and in this instance Ryanair is again ahead of the game.

  • 102.
  • At 05:54 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • John Clift wrote:

Its all hot air - real sources of emissions are left to one side as the political fall out from the farming brigade would be too much to bear, so hit an easy target air travel. Cheap fares do not exist as by the time you add on all the extras they are no different to the so called premium carriers. regardless of the ticket price the treatment is the same crap. I know as I travel almost 500,000 air miles per year for my job. Take a train to Dublin or Ankara or even perhaps New York or say Seattle well greenies it would be an interesting if not a little wet trip. Get real new aircraft do use less fuel and produce less emissions so O'leary has a valid point.

  • 103.
  • At 05:56 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Terry Piper wrote:

If the Government is serious about reducing Carbon emmissions they should be using the increase in departure tax to fund green projects.

On the BBC2 series about going green solar energy to heat enough water for a home (during summer) cost about £500 so why not fund projects to get this done across the country.

I read somewhere that the treasury is getting about £350000 extra from the increase in fuel duty so why not use this to help provide cheaper bus travel across the UK.

  • 104.
  • At 06:01 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • mike wrote:

The low cost airlines have new fuel efficient fleets of aircraft which produce less CO2 emmissions per passenger than a 1.1 Ford Fiesta per k.m travelled. The UK's airline industry has recently been a success story, providing cheap travel to the masses and 1000's of jobs. This government's position is driven by it's anti-capitalist dogma and need to hoover up more of our money to waste on it's idiotic schemes.
ps. everytime comrade tony goes overseas on an offisial visit he hires a boeing 777 all to himself.

  • 105.
  • At 06:01 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Martin Powell wrote:

Michael O’Leary's frankness makes the business case for regulation, and government action more powerfully than any environmentalist or global justice campaigner.

If the government doesn't curb the growth in flying, it will be impossible for for it to meet its targets to cut CO2. And it is the half of the world's population that effectively makes no contribution to climate change who will pay the heaviest price.

  • 106.
  • At 06:02 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • martin wrote:

Its amazing how many people actually believe this is really about carbon emissions, not just another way for the Government to take yet more money out of our pockets!

Personally I don't know what the fuss is all about - keep taxes low, let us all fly to our heart's content and enjoy ourselves while we can. In 20 years' time - when there is no more oil or natural gas left - the greenhouse effect will in any case solve itself!

As for Government and 'green credentials' : if they were even remotely serious about greenhouse emissions they should never have allowed the construction of all those gas-fired power stations - all they've achieved is the rapid depletion of a scarce natural resource (making us dependant on Russia in the process) and postponement of the only practical solution (nuclear power) for a few years.

  • 107.
  • At 06:03 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • jp wrote:

Do our ministers of state peddle their green political wares on a bicycle even as far as Florida?

  • 108.
  • At 06:06 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Theo Botang wrote:

There's not doubt that the airlines get off lightly in terms of taxation, but if the goverment wanted us all to travel around the country on trains rather than by air then they should have started making massive investments in track and rolling stock over a decade ago - these things take time.

And to those that think people only use budget airlines to go on holiday, think again! I fly much more on business than on holiday, and what of all those people who have family abroad? Then there are the thousands of students who benefit from studying in another country. If overdone, a rise in airline taxation would hit all these people, and the economy, very hard indeed.

  • 109.
  • At 06:08 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • kevin wrote:

It makes me laugh, that every one goes on about using the trains because they are more environmentally friendly. I thought that trains for the most part run on electricity. Were do you think that comes from? Oh yea the great big power stations, that are generating most of the CO2 in this country...

  • 110.
  • At 06:10 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Richard O'shea wrote:

Ultimately the choice lays with the individual, the environmental impact of energy production and use are well documented. If your getting on a plane for a short flight then you know you are contributing to the eventual destruction of the planet and as a result civilisation.

Gordon Brown, as usual, has just seen this as an opportunity to raise some more tax, adding 10-15 pound to a flight will only force the poorer members of society off of flights. Those with the money won't care and clearly don't care.

Vested interests and greed are the real enemy in this situation. A meaningful solution to environmental change will require governments to enforce corporations to act responsibly. As we all know that governments are generally powerless in the face of corporations the public should look to other means to effect change. The pound in your pocket is a good place to start, put simply, no profit = no corporation = no problem.

For sure, if you leave it upto governments and corporations to make the required changes you'll be waiting a very long time indeed.

  • 111.
  • At 06:14 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • J Scott wrote:

The environmental impact of aviation has received a great deal of attention recently. Some, but not all, of the reporting has been balanced and accurately reflects the true nature of the debate. Flying is an activity that has brought immeasurable improvements to our personal lives, our economies and society as a whole. Low-fare airlines, in particular, have created a revolution in how people lead their lives by making air travel affordable. We do not wish for a return to a time when flying was the preserve of a rich elite, which the Stern Report seems to indicate. Whilst it might well be perfectly true that on a mile by mile basis, short-haul flights are usually more damaging to the environment, they are still only responsible for between ten and 20% of aviation's contribution to climate change. Large amounts of fuel are consumed during taxiing, take off and ascent, but there is already a huge economic disincentive against these flights, courtesy of the £10 air passenger duty, and hefty airport handling charges, much of which goes back into local economies through job creation, and the profits that airport-owning local authorities reap from these fees.

Just because these flights could, in theory, be replaced by rail travel does not necessarily mean that they should. Even if we accept the argument that train travel causes significantly lower carbon dioxide emissions, the number of air routes which could reasonably be transferred over to the rail network represents a relatively small proportion of existing departures from UK airports and an even smaller proportion of emissions.

More investment in high-speed rail facilities, or indeed in Maglevs, is a great idea in principle. Unfortunately, these huge infrastructure projects will inevitably require massive state interference on a scale far greater than the planning approvals needed for airport expansion. At least new air routes can be developed by private enterprise, with little risk to the taxpayer. If a rail infrastructure project goes wrong, you can't just rip up the tracks and start again, but airlines can adapt their schedules much more easily. After the shambolic failures of the West Coast mainline upgrade, how much confidence can we have in the ability of any government to make any such scheme work?

Overall, therefore, aviation is a relatively small contributor to carbon emissions compared to sectors such as power generation (34%) and road transport (20%).

Aviation has a part to play in the environmental debate – and is playing it. But its impact must be kept in perspective and the sectors which cause the real damage – such as energy generation and road transport – should not go unchallenged. This is particularly the case when the economic contribution of aviation is considered. Aviation is an enabler of economic growth – in other words, it oils the wheels of Europe's economy and, as such, it is a very efficient user of emissions. Some 3.1 million jobs and €221bn of GDP in the EU-15 are contributed by aviation. It is a key driver for integration with the accession states and growth under the EU's Lisbon Agenda. Each 1kg of CO2 emitted by aviation brings higher net economic benefits than an identical 1kg of carbon emitted by other transport modes.

  • 112.
  • At 06:18 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Guy Cartwright wrote:

I agree with the taxing carbon emissions. However it is only a small step and much more needs to be done to combat climate change. As far a i am concerned it runs far deeper than left/right, capitalism/socialism. People seem prepared to be critical but do nothing and offer no alternative.

  • 113.
  • At 06:20 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Chris Hamilton wrote:

Why is there always such a focus on the Low Cost airlines? All they have done is apply modern technology and business practice to reduce the cost of air travel. Governments enabled this by deregulating the industry, providing great benefit to consumers, capitalism alright, but not the unacceptable face of it!

It is fairly and squarely in governments court to manage the market in a transparent and fair way, to ensure that other concerns, such as the environment impact, are taken into consideration.

The raising of UK airport tax will have little effect, if the government were serious about climate change they would funnel the money raised into projects designed to reduce carbon emmission, they could try planting a lot of trees.

Ryanair are the least worried by possible tax rises as they have by some margin the lowest cost base and low carbon emmissions per passenger. The minister will struggle to skew the market to penalise Ryanair (or other Low Cost carriers) more than the ex-flag carriers, he is far more likely to kill off a few of the latter.

  • 114.
  • At 06:28 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Steve wrote:

How on earth can they say they want people to use the trains instead of flying, one of the huge advantages of flying is that you actually get a seat!

Lord knows how many train journeys i've had in the past few years that have been overpriced, late, and rather crucially where i've been forced to stand up as the train does not even have half the carriages needed to even comfortably stand up!

  • 115.
  • At 06:28 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Chris wrote:

No there is no such thing as a free lunch, unless your name is Gordon Brown! (who gets the absurd amounts of tax levied io fuel.

How will making flights more expensive help? Most people can afford to go here and there - they can afford to smoke, go down the pub can't they? A few pints and hey presto, it's the same as doubling or trebling a super-cheap flight.

Your correspondent Patrick is right - it is hype. Planes are pretty efficient and their share of emissions is not so bad per capita.

Allow me to note here that it is the Americans and the Chinese who are at fault primarily - and guess who isn't a signatory to Kyoto, which becomes a waste of time as a result?

  • 116.
  • At 06:29 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Andrew Fuller wrote:

Isn't the real problem that we've become so used to the assumption that if we want something then it is therefore our right to have it. I know a number of people who have been to New Zealand but not to Scotland. Similarly, if it is cold outside, we should either be cold ourselves or put a coat on, not use a patio heater. Why on earth are we flying unseasonable vegetables to our table just because we fancy them? Like a spoilt child, just having all these things does not make us any happier, just demand more.

  • 117.
  • At 06:35 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

The problem aviation has is that fuel is not taxed due to an international treaty - ICAO an offshoot of the UN.
Why do I suspect that many who "demand" taxing aviation would be supporters of international agreements (Kyoto) and ensuring the UN in involved in all international decisions? We cant have it both ways.
It is also important to realise that aviation pays for all its own infastructure, pays for everything to do with security, pays all of the costs for the Government regulator that oversees it and pays passenger duty. It may need to pay a little more but this has to be done by amending the international treaty. But where does tax save the planet anyway? The Emissions Trading Scheme is a far better way to ensure aviation does not further harm the planet.

  • 118.
  • At 06:38 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Gareth Edwards wrote:

If flying or cars or power stations are that bad then do one of two things. One, ban them. Or two, legislate to force manufacturers, producers, operators etc. to find less or non-polluting ways of working - or they don't do business.

Sticking taxes on these activities is just not an option.

Firstly the government (all governments)will only tax them at a rate which produces a marginal decline in consumption but a jolly good haul in tax (see beers and fags). They like easy sources of money.

Secondly and more importantly they don't appear to spend the money they raise to do anything very useful. If I thought they were sensibly investing in R&D for clean fuels or even in making drastic improvements in public transport then taxes might be a bit easier to swallow. But the money will be squandered (probably on Ian Pearson's ministerial car!)


  • 119.
  • At 06:45 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Jake Long wrote:

Ryanair have gained themselves a new customer. It takes a brave company these days to stand up aginst the environmetalist nonsense.

We must not forget that there still is NO proof of man made climate change.

  • 120.
  • At 06:45 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Pablo wrote:

Please can we tax Volcanoes and the Sun, especially those pesky sunspots, before we turn to taxing the airlines ?
Taxing Volcanoes and the Sun would make no difference to their effect on the Global Climate but then again neither will Carbon Taxes.
At least however not taxing the Carbon would leave people out of harms way tax wise. And even better as Britain doesn't have any active volcanoes it would escape that portion of the tax burden.

This is about finding a cash cow to raise tax from. Brown is desperately short of money having blown it all on the client state and massive NHS pay rises.

  • 122.
  • At 06:49 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Wayne McDonough wrote:

Labour was once a party of the working classes, how times have changed. Ryanair the capitalists have at least allowed those at the poorer end of the scale to travel, while Labour try their best, through fuel tax and poor public transport policy, to keep them at home. ‘Green’ is only a justification for issuing the Government a license to print money.

to be honest... it's all a bit much for me. at 2% of the total emissions this is not something we need to be worrying about. besides we could all use the low fares to save money when we need to go abroad for medical treatment, as ministers spend far too much time not dealing with domestic issues.

  • 124.
  • At 07:01 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Sean wrote:

I have to agree with O'Leary and his comments about hitting the wrong targets. The UK as a whole is the wrong target if a true improvment is sought to CO2 emmisions.

The UK puts out about only around 2% of the global output of CO2. If real change is the goal, our government should be criticising and lobbying countries like the USA and China.

As a side point... travel by train? Expensive, late, noisey, unpleasent, slow and lots of waiting around. Why wouldnt you want to travel that way!

  • 125.
  • At 07:07 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Mike wrote:

A few years ago we travelled to Carcassonne with Ryanair, and our return flight was cancelled for "operational reasons", i.e. the flight was underbooked and combined with the next one about 12 hours later. Although we were annoyed at the time, with hindsight, surely this practise is less environmentally irresponsible than scheduled flights which may run half empty and I think it is unfair to portray budget airlines as any worse than other airlines.

I also agree with other comments about the viability of trains as an alternative. I have family in Lyon, I would be like to use the train to get there if the British part of the journey wasn't so outrageously expensive, slow and often uncomfortable due to trains being too short. (Ditto for any journeys to London, where the car is a much cheaper option, even if travelling alone!)

We have to reduce our CO2 output world wide. Air travel is the least important thing to most people who have to heat their homes and get to work. Putting air travel under the trading system is letting them off lightly but is at least a start. It is one thing to tax more that does not hurt the poor and gives a quick reduction in CO2 produced. It will not stop air travel but just make people use it more wisely. There is very little good comes to the UK from the hyper-cheap 6.30am flight on Ryanair. If filghts started at 8am and were £25 more than the UK would be very little different.

  • 127.
  • At 07:10 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Sarah wrote:

Given the expansion of the EU and the possibility to freely live and work in any one of 27 countries, low cost airlines now serve an important purpose. If Europe is becoming an integrated whole, surely we need a transportation service that facilitates movement across this whole. If, as is claimed, flights can be made more carbon efficient, shouldn't this be more thoroghly investigated before we banish short haul flights to the realms of a luxury good?

  • 128.
  • At 07:20 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Colin Brown wrote:

Why should we target a specific use of medium-fraction oil that is of high value to many of its users? That is, you can't fly a plane on coal or nuclear or electric power so what better use for an oil product than flying people on deserved holidays? But we should financially target flying freight e.g. food fresh from the tropics, or next-day air-freight of goods that should go by ship or rail.

  • 129.
  • At 07:25 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Bill Johnson wrote:

We would much rather travel by train on short and medium haul journeys but quite simply, we can't afford to!
And there's not enough capacity when it matters. If the government wants people to travel more by train then they should make it free or at least take a leaf from Ryanairs book of how to do it for less.

  • 130.
  • At 07:47 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Russell Long wrote:

I'm just wondering whether this is the same government that wants to expand Gatwick, Heathrow and Stanstead airports. Is it? Could it be?

These are the same reports we had before Christmas. Brown is pre-listing his targets for the 07 budget. I predict tax rises for: People who work, people who drive. I predict handouts for: Labour voters, Labour constituencies.

  • 131.
  • At 08:02 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • nads wrote:

To the UK Daily Pundit :

Seen Al Gore's film? No? Go and see it: if so many jobs disappear in the UK it's not a problem, because half of London and the Thames Valley will be under water, so there is less room for jobs and people anyway...

... anyone who has seen that film will agree that doing nothing is not an option (unless you don't have kids, and don't care what happens to humanity after you're dead.)

  • 132.
  • At 08:19 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • nads wrote:

Richard says "they should force the aircraft manufacturers to improve efficiency - rather as has been done for motor vehicles (particularly in California)"

Richard, if you had seen Al Gore's "An inconvenient Truth", you'd know that Japan and Europe have efficiency requirements far greater than California: in fact California's are so ridiculously low that in 12 years they have to achieve the efficiency Chinese manufacturers have to achieve today. This was so staggering I remembered that fact after having seen the film only once.

However, I agree that efficiency requirments have to be used far more, not just on airliners, but most of all on power generation & real estate, which contribute very largely to CO2 emissions; as well as on all forms of transport.

  • 133.
  • At 08:34 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • John Leebody wrote:

When Tony Blair and all the Parliamentary jollies stop traveling by air, I will too!

  • 134.
  • At 08:42 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Bob Taylor wrote:

All of this talk misses some key points:
A plane flying full is more efficient than a plane flying half-empty.
In the 'bad old days' before the budget airlines, planes would fly with empty seats but charge the few passengers a lot for their ticket. Along came Ryanair and Easyjet with pricing policies that aimed to get their planes filled, thus cutting the cost, on average, of the air tickets.
But think about it: if you sell 10 otherwise empty seats for one pound each, you not only increase the efficiency of the flight per passenger, you also reduce the carbon emissions per passenger, and you generate another ten 'departure taxes' for Greedy Gordon.
So environmentalists should praise Ryanair for filling its planes rather than flying with empty seats. Making air travel 'much more expensive', as both stupid Labour and stupid tories seem to want to do (great choice they leave the voter), will do nothing to reduce carbon emissions. It will just mean that planes fly with more empty seats, while the more well-off afford to pay more for their tickets. It might even cut the treasury's receipts from departure taxes.

I am sure I am not alone in wondering just how fuel-efficient an aeroplane is. The answer is that a standard Ryanair plane does as many passenger miles per gallon of fuel as an average car when carrying _four_ people. So every time you drive with less than a full car, you are harming the environment _more_ than if you took a plane to get there. So stick that in your pipe and smoke it (or in your vegetable juicer and drink it).

By now you will have noticed that the cost of the flight is _completely irrelevant_ in environmental terms.

The real issue here is carbon emissions. Well perhaps much travel abroad does generate harmful emissions. But so does just about everything else we do (including passing wind). As Michael O'Leary correctly points out, aviation accounts for a tiny 2% of the total emissions, while power generation and road traffic together account for 50%. Meanwhile Russia continues to waste more gas each year through poor infrastructure than the EU in total uses for heating, and China opens a new power station each week.

All we are really seeing from this corrupt Blair government is what we have already seen time and again: a new tax for the sake of it, because of their profligate spending on policies that aren't working, while they attempt to shift the blame onto easy targets. Nothing any blairite politician says can be believed, nor should we believe environmentalists on this one.

One of the key pillars of the success of the UK economy, the EU, and for the wider global economy in the 21st century, not to mention one of the best ways to foster understanding and reduce the chances of war, is mass travel, the freedom of movement of as many people as possible. So what we in fact need and hopefully will get is cheaper and more frequent travel, not more expensive and less travel. But what has the Blair government done? It has presided over massive increases in the cost of fuel and train fares, while itself doing nothing to make travel easier or cheaper. Happily decent, enlightened people like Michael O'Leary -- the face of useful, virtuous capitalism -- have been doing us a favour where the government is incapable.
... so what is the classic Blair government move when inconvenient news come out, such as the inflation-busting increases in train fares? That's right, it gets one of its lesser minions to put out a statement that will keep the media busy and distract us from the real issues that they themselves are failing successfully to address.

  • 135.
  • At 08:43 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Richard Goddard wrote:

Once again a Government Minister looks for an easy target. The power generation companies and road transport are far more polluting, yet the new lowcost airlines use new jets, which incidently provide much needed skilled manufacturing technology jobs in Europe, which the population would not want to lose!
Please Minister - please research your subject!

  • 136.
  • At 09:29 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Joe Mooney wrote:


Ian Pearson is surely the unacceptable face of politicians.

  • 137.
  • At 09:33 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Jamie wrote:

How many times do we have to hear the same old but-it-will-create-unemployment defence? Of course it will, but the question is how much, and whether the costs outweigh the benefits. The economic analysis here is cut and dry in favour of taxation.

The fact is that there's a bucketload of tax revenue that belongs to the people: taxes that should be implemented in order to make the market reflect the _true_ cost of airline travel (i.e. so that it includes the externality of pollution).

No good case can be made for continuing this effective subsidy (unlike, say, the incredibly wasteful CAP). If you are really committed to efficient markets, then you should really be in favour of taxing airlines properly.

If you are committed to environmental issues on top of this, fine. But it is irrelevant to the principle reason why airlines should be taxed properly.

Of course, the airlines will win on this one. Reason tends to fail when it is faced with huge corporations with lobbying powers to convince an illeducated public that they're doing their bit for the environment. Jeez, McDonalds have managed to convince people that they're doing their bit for public health (i.e. they've cut salt a bit and shoved in a couple of salads on the menu), so anything is possible!

  • 138.
  • At 09:38 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Mike Wilson wrote:

Lets get it right the growth of low cost fares has caused more emmissions and why should there be no duty, vat etc on airline fuel. Why always hit the motorist. How much fuel does it take to get 150 people from London to Edinburgh by plane or the same by coach or car. I'm no expert but my guess at least 10 times so why do we subsidise internal air line flights.

  • 139.
  • At 09:41 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Steve wrote:

As shipping is the cause of more pollution than aircraft, when are we going to hear of taxes on it? Or are the airlines being attacked as they are a more glamorous and therefore headline grabbing target? Will believe the government are serious about aircraft pollution when they stop flying so much.

  • 140.
  • At 09:58 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Cynosarges wrote:

The flaw in Pearson's "logic" is exposed by Ryanair's comment. We could close down the UK, not only planes, but every single energy source - oil, gas, coal, nuclear, water, wind; and the NEW power stations China completes in 2007 would push out more CO2. India's NEW power stations will produce more CO2 than Spain. In 2008, you could close down Germany, and yet again the NEW power stations in China and India would produce more C02. Until China, India, Brazil, Mexico & Indonesia are included in C02 limitation, any scheme attempted by the west is attempting to bail out a leaking boat using a sieve. It may be embarassing for Pearson to face this unpleasant truth, but face it he must!

  • 141.
  • At 10:17 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Peter Davies wrote:

Looks like 'back to the cave'then folks.
Thousands more 60 ton trucks polluting Englands green and pleasant lands.

About time this government confronted the Freight Transport Association...some hope

Now where did I put those ostrich feathers I new they would come in handy sometime soon. I can then fly to North Africa and bury my head in the sand..

  • 142.
  • At 10:21 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Philip wrote:

If the government really wishes to tackle the issue of too much air travel, it has to be prepared to legislate. It can't encourage the capitalist market with one hand and then slap it down with the other.
The establishing of some enforcable rules about, for example, the number of flights that the climate can safely sustain, would make it clear to everyone that there *is* a problem. Simply demanding that the airlines have to pay more taxes to pay for the damage is not tacking the cause of that damage.

  • 143.
  • At 10:22 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • david henderson wrote:

Ryanair is a disaster for many travellers. Service is zero, back-up in the event of problems is zero, it advertises low low ticket prices that are very rarely available. Maybe if you have the time and stamina to hang around at Stansted overnight. I think low-price airlines should be banned except for a few seasonal routes. I'd rather go by train, even for a thousand miles, than face these people.

  • 144.
  • At 10:37 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • steve thomas wrote:

Another comment from an uninformed overpaid/hypocritcal minister. New Labour travel more miles in government pool cars, have massive expense accounts and travel first class everywhere on their jollies all at the tax payers expense.

They should be made to live like the people they are supposed to respresent. I have to pay for my own fuel to go to work, why can't these over officous representatives of the people?

I challenge the minister to predict the weather in four weeks time. Global warming is an excuse for a New Labour tax. Remember before the last ice age the earth was warm? Think about it.

  • 145.
  • At 10:48 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • anon wrote:

There's no proof that climate change is occurring. Just a bunch of assertions from politicians and the media. The media should stick to reporting news, not trying to make it and shoving journalists' opinions (read the likes of John Simpson and Orla Guerin) down our throats.

  • 146.
  • At 10:53 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Gordon Toulson wrote:

I have been listening to politicians and experts spout their wisdom for far too long. Many of them are as ignorant as the next man when it comes to the truth, especially in such matters as global warming. I fly long haul regularly because that is my lifestyle. I will have to pay the extra £80 to Gordon Brown to give as handouts to wasters. I will not curtail my travels and I don't think an extra £80 here or there will make much difference. It's just another tax on those who can afford it dressed up as saving the planet.

  • 147.
  • At 10:54 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Fred wrote:

Just remove the preposterous tax exemption on aviation fuel at a global level - then at least there's a level playing field.

  • 148.
  • At 11:00 PM on 05 Jan 2007,
  • Richard de Gerber wrote:

New Labour are great at looking for tax opportunities, however they never reinvest in transport to ensure we have the greener options to hand, so we are forced to pay more for less all the time. 3rd World UK under this crowd is not so far away. Hazel Blears is against NHS reform, Pearson is now attacking his own government's policies on air travel..these people have lost the plot we need to get rid of New Labour as nothing will ever get better with this crowd. Gordon Brown is just pressing his flared trousers ready to show he is the real face of 1970s old Labour and he wants to tax us to the pips squeek upon gaining the keys to number 10! No doubt he will be telling us then that number 11 is the unacceptable face of capitalism?

  • 149.
  • At 12:16 AM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • jp wrote:

Reading the above proves one thing to me - the real idiots in this debate are those who are in power. Who put them there? We did! Allegedly...

  • 150.
  • At 12:38 AM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • jp wrote:

I meant to add in my last post that given Pearson's remarks, our glorious PM will swim back home, our beloved deputy PM shall dispose of his Jags and our ministers will in future refrain from using any form of public/military transport airborne or otherwise. Indeed, the world might be a better place if they just stayed at home.

  • 151.
  • At 12:44 AM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Steve wrote:

Dear oh Dear, when will people learn? So many of you have been utterly sucked into this debate with ever looking at the wider picture.

Aircraft C02 emissions = 2%

Power generation emissions = 29%

Vehicle emissions = 21%

look at the numbers people, and do the maths..even if you grounded the UK airlines tommorrow, you wouldn't even make a dent. Then again, thats exactly what the hand wringing apologists suggest! the world is going to end tommorrow doomsdayers are saying.
Global warming is here, thats for sure, its been happening since the last iceage for goodness sake!!
How about we take the ideology and politics out of this debate...but that won't do will it? there are too many screaming doomsdayers shouting blue murder.

  • 152.
  • At 12:59 AM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • A. Hesketh wrote:

Climate change is the new religion. We can castigate ourselves as hard as we want - it may change how we feel about things, but not how things work out.

Staying quietly at home, breathing softly inwards, keeping all gas safe inside you.... It's not going to matter one bit when India and China gets on with business as usual.

And if you think Pearson is going to lead the way... Well. Then you're really going to find that crown of thorns useful.

  • 153.
  • At 01:21 AM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • John Grahamslaw wrote:

I have just had the opportunity to review many of the comments. In short I am amazed at some of the nieve comments. We live in a Global village and have every right to travel at the cheapest fares we can find. Low cost airlines should be applauded not castigated for providing the ability for low cost travel for ordinary folk like me. Plus lets not be fooled taxation will not stop enviromental polution. Instead of attacking the soft belly of the Airline industry what about getting the USA to play ball with the rest of the world by formulating and applying ANY type of effective enviromental policy?

  • 154.
  • At 01:24 AM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

I don't believe we should be taxed more for flying in the U.K. Isn't disgusting that for a flight from Heathrow to Aberdeen costs more than if we fly to the other side of europe and back and it would still be cheaper? Besides, Heathrow will be dismantled in a few years time. They are moving it closer to London. I do believe in the environment, but there has to be another way than just simply taxing everything!

  • 155.
  • At 07:34 AM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • M. Fernandez wrote:

I feel like I'm watching a country which has climbed to the height of civilization and technology suddenly snap back into the agrarian age as if connected to a rubber band.

Of course it's about taxes. Gordon (and Dave) want to feed and educate the world.

  • 156.
  • At 08:51 AM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Thos wrote:

It says a lot about British transport when it's cheaper to fly than get the train. As a student, I can fly to Berlin and back for less than the cost of a one-way 'cheap' ticket from Uni to London.

  • 157.
  • At 09:52 AM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Craig Eastman wrote:

When will this god-forsaken government of ours realise that cranking up tax is not the solution to any given problem? We pay already pay way more tax than is necessary, and hiking up air fares will NOT convince this citizen or any other to take to our laughably decrepit rail network any time soon. The problem lies in gross inefficiency of spending, with insane "black holes" in public spending, third party contractors who know they can give the lowest estimate then triple the costs, ludicrous levels of red tape and the Old Boy Network fat cats who always walk away with the cream.

I couldn't care less how much Ryanair or any other British airline sees fit to charge for it's services; that's entirely up to them. Until we get our house in order and tackle the bigger issues of corruption in public spending the treasury will simply be pouring perfume on a pig.

  • 158.
  • At 10:29 AM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Ashley wrote:

As a poor traveller with a concern for the environment I am trying to travel without any flying. My hope is in the near future to go by rail to Asia and my current trip is to travel to Morocco without flying. However, it is infuriating to spend so much time planning the trip, to take so long doing it and to spend so much money on it when I could fly for practically nothing to practically anywhere. I disagree with the comments stating this is about the rich few taking away the right to travel from the poor, but do see their point. For me to do a trip like this is incredibly expensive, but what is most annoying is knowing that it need not be this way. With the political will and economic investment there really could be an integrated, fast, efficient European wide rail network making flying within Europe unnecessary. As it is at the moment, just getting the train a few miles in the UK is equivalent to air travel to Spain. This is ludicrious, we must start making some real sensible changes so that we can live well, go to the places we want to go, but still be sustainable in how we do it.

  • 159.
  • At 10:35 AM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Michael wrote:

So it's suggested that a heavy environmental tax should be imposed on airlines, resulting in increased prices and with the likely consequence that an uncowed general public will continue to fly - allowing the Government to rake in yet more tax. This much is predictable so can someone explain exactly how this will benefit the environment and if our elected representatives will set an example? Or is their need to travel so much more important than ours?

Others may have said this above, but I believe the real enemy is domestic air travel. Leave the low-cost-flights to Eastern Europe as they are for now - as someone said above, there isn't any real alternative. London to Edinburgh has a good alternative available - the train.

Why not just tax the heck out of domestic flights and plug the money back into the rail network?

  • 161.
  • At 02:56 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • tom currie wrote:

Green taxes on aircraft emmissions are a further example of the middle-class nannying snobbery that dictates policy in this country. The moderately wealthy object to the lower orders taking their hols overseas, and want to drive them out. The extra taxes will be no problem for themselves of course...

  • 162.
  • At 03:27 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • Matt Crawford wrote:

One has to feel sorry for the airline industry considering how much political and media attention is being focussed upon it despite its relatively small contribution to carbon emissions.

I have a degree in aerospace engineering, and am currently doing a masters, for part of which I am writing a dissertation on aviation induced climate change. I can't re-iterate enough how inaccurate politicians and journalists can be when citing 'scientific' evidence. Aviation currently contributes 2 percent of CO2 emissions. It contributes an estimate of between 2 and 5 percent to human induced climatic warming however, as the altitude of the chemical injections and formation of cirrus cloud from contrails accentuate the effect of the raw emission quantity. Reports that it is the 'fastest growing' contributor are inaccurate and based upon a short term resurgence in flights after the post 9-11 aviation slowdown.

Aviation has its part in climate change, but is an order of magnitude less significant than power generation. It is also worth noting that fuel efficiency is a key driver for aerospace engineers (even if for economic not environmental reasons) and that many efficiency technologies that would have not been developed if it were not for aviation have found themselves used in other industries, thus going some way to offsetting the damage caused by aviation in the first place.

  • 163.
  • At 05:36 PM on 06 Jan 2007,
  • DAVID VINTER. wrote:

What is Ryanair supposed to do? Shut down one engine at 20000 feet? Tow a glider behind?
If it is taxed, it will not be Ryanair that pays, it will be the passengers!
Anyway Methane is 20 times more dangerous to the atmosphere and if you count it----- then world cattle causes more problems than all the transport!
Why are there so many cattle? 'Cause there are so many people!

  • 164.
  • At 12:07 PM on 07 Jan 2007,
  • Tudor Rickards wrote:

Welcome back, Nick. My post is about what you haven't said yet. In your absence I've been replying on other blogs for following the political stories. One interpreted BBC reports as implying a fresh take on Tony Blair's departure time. I would have turned to you for an additional and definitive line. (OK, even you are entitled to a break)

Anyway, the 'story on the story' seems to have petered out. Am I right in concluding that there is consensus that Blair has no wriggle room but to go as PM before September 2007, and that there are sound reasons for estimating it will be around May?

  • 165.
  • At 11:46 PM on 07 Jan 2007,
  • PETER ZEYSS wrote:

Taxing aircraft fuel? Just another stealthtax which we have to face.
Why does this government not build roads and car park facilities at city entrances with sufficient capacacity, so out journeys are not delayed by another 30% at least when trying to get to work. Our public transport system is the most expensive, slowest, most unreliable and the most dirtiest in Europe. I have not seen a country in Europe where roadworks take such a long time to finish (over there they work even at night when needed to speed up decongestions) Why block off sections of our road when not a worker is in sight. Is it not time the public get to knows how ineffcient we are governt with regards to road planning, health and education. But then again we are a country of wingers instead of taking action

  • 166.
  • At 02:30 PM on 08 Jan 2007,
  • dan casey wrote:

In what way is air undertaxed compared with the rail industry?

I agree with a flat Carbon tax on all uses of Carbon fuel whether for transport or other uses such as electricty generation. Then perhaps we will see some investment in alternatives.

It makes no difference to the planet whether you are cooling an office or flying to Malaga on a cheap airline !

  • 167.
  • At 12:32 AM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • June Gibson wrote:

There is much criticism of the people air carriers, but what about all the air freight, especially the food air-freighted to/from places all over the world? It's not just road haulage that is responsible for "food miles".

  • 168.
  • At 01:28 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Robert Nock wrote:

Of course airline travel should be taxed according to its polluting effects. BUT on this logic car travel would either have to come down a lot or airtravel go so high as to be only affordable by the rich AND the exemption on fuel duty for tractors etc (red diesel) MUST stop (tractors fumes are not less damaging because they are produced off road).

At the end of it we must remember that it looks VERY likely that humans are changing the climate very quickly and we will all suffer and a lot more than just not getting some foreign holidays or cheap imports.

  • 169.
  • At 03:27 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • nick wrote:

If the govt are so keen to cut down on air travel why have they approved extra runways at heathrow and stansted. The air tax is nothing more than a revenue generator for the chancellor and air travellers are an easy target.

  • 170.
  • At 05:36 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Chris Knight wrote:

I agree with Nick's sentiments. Although I should point out that Ryanair doesn't fly to Tallinn...

  • 171.
  • At 09:52 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • James Eley wrote:

I am 16 and everytime i read about climate change and people not doing anything to help reduce it, i think thanks because i think that in my future and my kids futures the world is going to be very diffrent and most people today wont be there to see whats happened. this makes me so sad that most people dont care. Thanks for destroying the world that i have to live in becuase i will have to pick up the peices.

  • 172.
  • At 11:22 PM on 10 Jan 2007,
  • Richard Crossley wrote:

When I see Tony Blair on a bus going to Blackpool for his summer hols, then I'll support higher taxes for the airlines.

While he jets around the world on my taxes, he and his chums had better keep quiet.

  • 173.
  • At 12:14 AM on 11 Jan 2007,
  • Mike wrote:

Are there any scientific studies of the total life-cycle costs of rail vs air travel? I find it hard to believe the cheaper cost of flying from London to Scotland is just because of untaxed jet fuel. What about the huge energy and CO2 costs of building and maintaining 400 miles of rail infrastructure?

We all know the cost of driving 30 or 40 miles is more than the simple cost of a gallon of petrol. Unless we look at the real overall energy/CO2 cost of things, such debates are an uninformed waste of time. Still, that sums up most of politics I suppose.

  • 174.
  • At 03:22 PM on 11 Jan 2007,
  • wrote:

Hi, yeah most of our co2s are from traffic congestion .In London it is not working any more,traffic levels are back to the old days,Road works ,poor road layout ,useless one way systems ,right turn bans,inconsistent speed limets,road and street names illegible or non exestint,red lights a few seconds for cars minuets for walkers even when they are not to be seen.Where are the house nos .In Vancouver BC. Canada you could find out how to run a city,Ken Livingstone should contact Sam Sullivan to show him the way.Why do so many British want to be somewhere else?I have just told you.Happy New Year.Christy

  • 175.
  • At 02:48 PM on 12 Jan 2007,
  • Tony wrote:

Aviation fuel can't be taxed by the government.

Article 24 of the Chicago convention (the international treaty which allow airlines to travel between countries) states that there will be "no duty on fuels, oils, spares parts and aircraft stores"

This clause was entered to prevent one state profiting at the expense of another. ie. If the UK charged 10% tax on fuel and France charged 20% then the French governmemt would then profit over any UK based aircraft that landed in France.

The UK Government could tax aircraft registered in the UK, but as Ryanairs fleet is based in Eire then UK tax would not be applicable to them anyway, and all that would happen is that the UK's airlines would rent a small office overseas for the purposes of aircraft registration, or worse still relocate all business overseas and just fly the UK routes without having any real UK employees.

The government need to do more to tackle emmissions from industry. Coal fired power stations need to be cleaned up. Nuclear power stations have to be built. All new houses should feature solar panels in the roofs, both for the provision of hot water and electricity.

Larger grants should be in place to help people install these expensive, but enviromentally friendly peices of equipment. After all if you fit solar panels to the roof of your house the government estimates they should provide about 50% of your annual electricity requirements. Therefore if every building in the UK were fitted with solar panels then our power station requirements would fall dramatically (although not by 50% due to the fact people live in high density housing and that heavy industry would use a greater proportion than it would generate)

Local authorites could do their bit too. Space street lamps slightly further apart so we need fewer of them and replace the bulbs with more energy effecient varieties. Replace traffic lights that use timers for those with traffic sensors. I have lost count of the number of minutes during my early morning commute that my car has been idling at a set of traffic lights whilst no-one was using the other road, but as the lights were on a timer then i had to wait.

Maybe while they are at it they could remove all the speed humps and other traffic calming measures, cars are more efficient when they can travel at a constant speed, not when they are speeding up, slowing down and changing gears to negotiate these obstacles. If traffic needs to be slowed down for example outside a school, then set a 20 mph limit, enforce it with a speed camera which is only on between 0800 and 0900 and again in the evening when the school closes.

Again all the housing stock owned by councils could easily be converted to solar power, as a landlord with many properties just think how much councils could earn by fitting solar panels and selling the power back into the national grid.

Open up the grant system to have older cars converted less polluting to LPG. Not everyone can afford a brand new car, these governement incentives to be green only help those who can afford to buy the latest and greenest toys, but others are relegated to buying cheap second hand cars that are more polluting but which could be made cleaner with this sort of fuel conversion.

Of course all this costs money, but maybe if MP's took a pay cut for a change the country could be better served, and some of these ideas could be implemented.

  • 176.
  • At 10:20 AM on 16 Jan 2007,
  • Victor wrote:

The emergence of so many "low cost" carriers which are not incidentally all "low fare", has had a huge negative impact on the environment - so yes, hefty taxes should be implemented. Isn't it time that their expansion was thwarted. There is really no need to fly from Girona to Nykoping for example for 1 euro, nor is there any need to fly from Hong Kong to London for 20 euro. People have really lost it. Aviation should once again become civilised and so it should remain so.

I would suggest that flying starts becoming a luxury once more and something that should not be available to all. The huge global increase in airline fleets for the most part due to the emergence of low-cost carriers has accentuated the negative effects of climate change beyond control. Taxes should be increased across the board not only on legacy carriers but also throughout the "low-cost" industry. People should be made to pay - the environment cannot support any more aircraft.

  • 177.
  • At 01:11 PM on 18 Jan 2007,
  • Brian wrote:

Keep the cost down, and get rid of the Mercs that the governemt are being carted around in

  • 178.
  • At 11:17 AM on 19 Jan 2007,
  • JIM EVANS wrote:

Gordon Brown calls for a "new world order"
This is Bilderberg talk--- i Told you this man is dangerous.

  • 179.
  • At 08:22 AM on 20 Jan 2007,
  • Robert wrote:

We seem, as so often, to be engaging in a knee jerk emotionally based reaction to the current focus on Air Transport. Please can we conduct the debate with a degree of reference to facts and leave aside the unhelpful and misleading political hype. The following seems relevant: 1.The Uk currently produces 2.5% of total world emissions with the USA at 25% and China currently around 18% but set to dwarf everyone else. 2. Air Transport currently accounts for 3% of Uk transport emission while Road Transport is 25%. 3. No one can really believe that the current air duty is really a deterent it has to simply be another tax for a chancellor with high spending priorities. 4. The Uk has a world class air transport industry which is an important contributor to the Uk economy and an important employer.
5. A large number of Uk residents have made investments abroad based on quick cheap access in an ever shrinking world, still more have families abroad. 6. For many intercontinental flights the tax bit of the bill is often as much as one third of the bill, on this basis how is it that passenger air transport has not been taxed?
7. Perhaps instead of crippling our economic performance (generally the poorer you are the larger your CO2/pollution footprint) with one of the world's highest overall tax regimes and an ill considered set of knee jerk environmental policies we should be considering the possibility of adaption rather prohibition. Air transport suggestion - Jet engines perform well burning ethanol alcohol. I believe there is a company in Brazil working flat out converting them while Brazilian bussiness is busy as the world's largest Ethanol producer. Where does the Ethanol come from, yes plants! There might never be enough to convert all jet engines but then we are never going to stop all air transport either.

  • 180.
  • At 09:11 AM on 20 Jan 2007,
  • Doug wrote:

I applaud the points about energy saving and local solar and wind, but speed bumps actually have a positive effect. If an area is 20mph max, then the speed bumps are designed for that speed and a vehicle can stay at constant speed. What does use energy is people speeding in urban areas then braking at junctions, with net greater use of energy. There is of course the human cost, and there are innumerable studies to show the dramatic decrease in serious and fatal accidents when limits are enforced. Speed cameras; yes they work, and are well suited to main roads, but then there's the energy required to design, manufacture, install, power and maintain, and to post those letters and process them.

People here discuss turning lights off at night. Apart from saving energy waste this helps insects enjoy a normal circadian rhythm. The 24 hour day resulting from artificial night lighting is have enormous, insidious "hidden" effects. It is sucking insects from their habitat areas. Insects are at the base of the food chain. We are already seeing higher order creatures dying out and at the very least in decline. House sparrows being a good example at the present. Their chicks need insect and spider protein. Without food animals die!

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