Must flying cost more to protect the environment?

With effect from next year France will introduce an eco-tax on flights ranging from 1.50 to 18 euros on the ticket price, depending on the distance flown. The EU Commission is also apparently examining various ways to tax the aviation sector, one of them being a kerosene tax. Not everyone is convinced that this is the way to go.

Open/close all quotes (DE) /

Time to tax kerosene at last!

Flying has to become drastically more expensive, demands

“EasyJet and Lufthansa have just released their forecasts. Everything's still going merrily upwards. So much for the Greta Effect, or environmentally-friendly travel! People don't change voluntarily. It has to be forced upon us. In this case what we need is a financial incentive. Which is why we need to ramp up the taxes on air travel! Or better still: go straight for a kerosene tax. It is already scandalous that kerosene is not taxed within the EU. It's not as if the legal framework was not in place. The airline industry has to start contributing its fair share to environmental protection.”

Les Echos (FR) /

There are worse climate offenders

All the blame for climate change is unfairly being lumped on the aviation industry, complains aviation consultant Xavier Tytelman in Les Echos:

“Unfortunately this means that the airline industry is still both the cow that is milked and the scapegoat. ... Because is anyone aware that commercial airlines have promised to cap CO2 emissions at 2020 levels and halve them by 2050 in spite of growth? And that the average Frenchman uses three times as much CO2 by using the Internet and other new technologies than through his air travel? The electricity used for the servers of Netflix, YouTube and Facebook is already responsible for producing more CO2 than the global civilian airline industry and is increasing every year by nine percent. ... Does this mean we will be seeing an eco-tax on Internet use any time soon?”

L'Opinion (FR) /

Big costs, little benefit

L'Opinion criticises the eco-tax for three reasons:

“Firstly, in the fiercely competitive aviation sector airlines will not translate all the additional costs into extra charges on fares. Travellers will therefore have only a very small incentive to change their behaviour. Secondly, it is to be feared that if eco-taxes have a detrimental effect on the profitability of companies, the struggle to prevent climate change will lead to job losses in the coming years. The state has promised to strengthen the competitiveness of French companies, but it is weakening Air France. Thirdly, in the country with the highest levies in the world, the - unavoidable - burden that an ecological tax reform entails would need to be accompanied by general tax relief. The government is acting rashly and without a proper plan and is thus adding to people's frustration over high taxes.”

Der Standard (AT) /

A drop in the ocean

Initiatives by individual countries will do nothing to stop climate change, Der Standard asserts:

“The eco-tax doesn't go far enough and the various solutions across the EU are only moderately effective. The member states balk at taking radical climate measures at home because their fear of becoming uncompetitive is just too great. Therefore, the tax exemption on jet fuel must finally be abolished at the EU level and a pricing policy based on CO2 emissions introduced. Until that happens, Macron's initiative will remain a drop in the ocean on this already overheated planet.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

This has little to do with climate protection

These levies will not have the desired environmental impact, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung writes in an analysis:

“Eighteen euros slapped on the price of a business class ticket on a long-haul flight will hardly persuade anyone not to travel. And it is equally unlikely that 1.50 euros will influence a traveller’s decision as to whether to spend longer getting from Paris to Toulouse. The TGV is already a viable alternative to flying on many routes. This eco-tax will probably do little to reduce French greenhouse gas emissions. Rather the French state would appear to have found a way to finance the renewal of the infrastructure. That is legitimate, but it doesn't have much to do with climate protection.”

taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

Trains must become a real alternative to flying

While it is a good thing that the revenues from the eco-tax will go to the SNCF, even this is no more than a positive signal, the taz complains:

“The whole European rail infrastructure needs to be hugely expanded. That will require many billions, both in Germany and in most of its neighbouring countries. Today travellers have no European railway system worthy of the name that could make flying within Europe superfluous. Even buying a ticket for a journey that crosses borders is an adventure. It's more difficult to travel through Europe by train nowadays than it was in the last century. Germany's Deutsche Bahn bears some of the blame for that, having, for example, abolished its night sleepers. If rail travel is to become an alternative to flying, then it has to become more comfortable and much cheaper everywhere in Europe.”