Written by Eric Lombard While the aviation sector and governments promise a new era of “sustainable” aviation fuels (SAF), we know that it will divert much-needed resources away from other sectors and take decades to happen, if at all. Yet there is an efficient way to...
1. Kerosene tax, ticket tax, VAT
In Europe, aviation kerosene is not taxed, while in many other countries a tax exists at least for domestic aviation. A new leaked study shows that taxing kerosene in the EU would cut emissions by 11% and raise almost 27 € billion in revenues every year – a new EU civil initiative calls for a kerosene tax. Adding to this, in many countries international flights are exempt from VAT. From a climate justice perspective, these tax-avoiding privileges are irresponsible and very unfair because they favour aviation over sustainable alternatives like trains.
This working group will discuss the possible effects of a kerosene tax, a ticket tax or VAT on tickets and goods, trying to work out the pros and cons. A close look on aspects of social justice, an international comparison as well as a clear distinction between a kerosene tax and a carbon tax will be at the core of the discussion.
2. Progressive ticket tax or frequent flyer levy
In the UK, around 15% of the people are taking around 70% of the flights. Why should they be taxed the same as the people flying just once every while? Studies show, that those frequent flyers are wealthy. A progressive ticket tax increases the amount of tax with each successive flight-ticket one buys (could be per year, per life…). Some models propose one tax-free flight per year with increasing taxes for additional tickets (www.afreeride.org). Other models propose increased taxes for business class tickets, or stress that the tax revenues must directly feed into supporting railway infrastructure and scientific research on alternatives.
This working group will discuss what a progressive ticket tax could look like, and what would be obstacles and barriers to it.
3. Limits or caps on short-haul/domestic flights
In a time of climate crisis, there seems to be no good reason for domestic flights within Europe and short-haul flights in general. Instead, investments in good train infrastructure and ecological passenger ships are needed. The argument that personal liberty would be cut in case of forbidding or limiting short-haul flights, must also consider the restricted liberty of all the people already suffering from the climate crisis.
In this working group, we will discuss the pros and cons of bans, limits and caps. This includes thinking about what would be needed for people to accept this idea and for politicians to actually put a law in force. The role of decent alternatives and a just transition are likely to be at the centre of the discussion as well as questions about the national or international scope of the measure.
4. Moratoria on new airport infrastructure, and scaling down of airports (e.g. regional airports)
Expanding airports and constructing new ones both accommodates rising demand for flights and creates a business impetus to boost demand, to fill the growing capacity. There are about 1200 airport infrastructure projects around the world. Many of them are connected to violations of human rights and destruction of biodiversity or agricultural land. Airports also put people under constant noise and pollution pressure. Putting a moratorium on new airport infrastructure and scaling down existing airports wherever possible could be ways to stop the growth of the sector.
This working group will summarize the various struggles all around the world against new airports or airport expansions and discuss strategies on how to support them. Would it make sense to focus our demands on moratoria on infrastructure projects, and to demand the shut down of most existing airports?
5. Institutional changes in travel policies
Travel policies mostly follow a pattern: the cheapest and fastest way to travel is given every advantage. This forces people to take the plane even if they don’t want to. Governments, communes, universities, NGOs, trade unions and other institutions should take the lead and serve as role-models by implementing travel policies that support the most climate-favouring, sustainable kind of transport. This means not only committing to higher travel costs but also to more time spent on the journey which can be counted as working time.
This working group will discuss best-practices of travel policies in different sectors. How can those changes be fostered? How are or should they be interrelated with other needed changes on a political as well as on an institutional level?
6. Fostering Alternatives
Not only are plane tickets very cheap, the lack of good and affordable alternatives also pushes people to fly. First steps on the way to a sustainable transport system can be: Night-trains and buses, improved international booking, improved transfers and affordable tickets. When it comes to crossing the ocean, investment in ships with renewable fuels is needed. Work travel can partially be shifted to online conferences. At the same time, we have to accept the need to generally question the hyper-mobile lifestyle we have developed over the last few decades – maybe a form of decelerated societies are also part of the solution.
This working group will discuss alternatives to air travel. What are the already existing alternatives, what is needed to improve them and what should be the focus of research, social movements and policy work?
7. Tourism Degrowth
The consequences of over-tourism are hitting more and more cities and places and are closely connected to low-cost airlines and the growth of the aviation sector. Some cities already put limits on the number of cruisers that are allowed to enter the port or limit entrance to overcrowded areas. In Barcelona, social movements are fighting for sustainable tourism and against platforms like Airbnb that contribute to rising rents and gentrification.
This working group will discuss if and how limits and caps on tourism could be an answer to those problems. What regulations are feasible, socially just and what would be needed for sustainable tourism?