Mike Yardley: Carbon tax on airfares would be a reckless move

Mike Yardley,
Publish Date
Friday, 12 July 2019, 10:19AM

Well now that the government has shown its hand on taxing gas-guzzlers , what other scalps will they be lining up?

Now that Nanny State has got her dibs on your car keys, how long will it be before she sizes up your plane ticket?

Yesterday France revealed its first moves in slapping carbon taxes on air travel. Air France flights will be slugged with eco-taxes ranging up to thirty New Zealand dollars per ticket from next year.

IATA has slammed the move, and the French foray on carbon taxing air travel is being seen as just a warm up act. The European Union is widely expected to go hell for leather with stonking carbon taxes in the next few years. Germany is agitating for this, arguing that carbon-based pricing on flights will impel the aviation industry to reign in its carbon footprint.

I actually think the airline industry is unfairly demonised for its contribution to greenhouse gases.

Global aviation produces around 2% of all human-induced CO2 emissions and twelve per cent of all transport emissions.

And I suspect many people will be surprised by how low those figures are, given the boom in air travel.

Jet aircraft today are eighty per cent more fuel efficient than they were in the nineteen sixties. That’s a remarkable figure and testament to the wonder of technology.

Huge investments are being made in making biofuels a future reality, but it won’t happen overnight with algee or ja-tropha. Remember that global solar flight a couple of years ago? What a joke. But the industry is committed to halving net carbon emissions by twenty fifty.

In the meantime, carbon offsetting is what most airlines do, including our own flag carrier, with their voluntary Fly neutral offset scheme. Planting trees and buying carbon credits.

But carbon taxing the hell out of airfares would be a reckless move, given how pivotal the tourism industry is to New Zealand’s prosperity, and livelihood. Any rash tax raids by this government or its Climate Change Commission would be economic vandalism.

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