THE last thing on the minds of airlines operating from fogbound Britain yesterday as the Christmas rush escalated would have been the European Union's plans to make them pay for their share of carbon emission creation. However, once the seasonal holiday is over we shall hear complaints about the extra costs that passengers will have to pay when the EU scheme comes into operation in 2011; the EU estimates this might be be around nine euros per flight within Europe. Public opinion polls often ask their respondents whether something should be done about carbon emissions and climate change and invariably get an affirmative answer. It would be interesting, however, to learn how much each individual is prepared to pay to see action taken and in which areas. Thus far the aviation industry has escaped relatively lightly. For instance, airline operators, unlike their groundbased competitors, pay no fuel tax; why should this be so? It is true that airline flights acount for only about 1.6 per cent of global carbon emissions but at the present rate of growth of the industry this is certain to increase. Some experts think the EU scheme will let off airlines too lightly. Perhaps so, but what possible grounds can there be for the exclusion of private jets and air taxis? Ordinary travellers may not know a lot about global warming but they will know enough to ask why the rich should pay less to help control emissions than they do.
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