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Why Aviation Should Embrace Carbon Taxation

The European Union’s recently proposed levy on conventional aviation jet fuel for intra-European flights has provoked opposition from the airline industry. But the sector should welcome carbon pricing as a powerful tool to achieve emissions reductions at least cost.

LONDON – Recent catastrophic floods in Germany and China have once again made clear the terrible global threat posed by climate change. In response, we must invest in strengthening our resilience to extreme weather events, and accelerate reductions in carbon dioxide emissions to limit how much worse that threat will become in the future.

A day before the floods hit Germany last month, the European Union outlined policies to cut emissions by 55% from 1990 levels by 2030. Those measures include a significant role for carbon pricing, with a tighter cap on emissions within the EU’s trading scheme, as well as the elimination of free emissions allowances for heavy industry and a tax on conventional aviation jet fuel for intra-European flights.

The latter proposal has provoked industry opposition, with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) arguing that “tax is not the answer to aviation sustainability.” In fact, the aviation industry, alongside other sectors, should embrace carbon pricing as a powerful tool to achieve emissions reductions at least cost.

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