Pressure group urges higher air taxes to penalise 'rich' flyers

A A A

The Government should impose more green taxes on aviation because flying is "primarily an activity of the rich," according to a study.

In a hard-hitting report published today, the anti-poverty pressure group the World Development Movement warns ministers they will fail to achieve big enough cuts in carbon dioxide emissions unless they halt the planned growth in aviation in Britain.

It accuses the Government of subsidising the aviation industry by £10.4bn a year - £173 for every man, woman and child - through tax reliefs and airport expansion. "The UK Government's support for the expansion in aviation contradicts its rhetoric on tackling climate change and global poverty," it says.

The report, Dying on a Jet Plane, claims: "Flying is an activity dominated primarily by the rich. The richest 18 per cent of the UK population are responsible for 54 per cent of flights, while the poorest 18 per cent are responsible for just 5 per cent. The average salary of passengers at UK airports is £48,000."

The study dismisses claims that the recent growth in flying has been due to people on lower incomes taking advantage of cheaper air fares. It says the number of trips from UK airports by passengers earning less than £14,374 a year fell from more than eight million in 2000 to seven million in 2004, while the number made by people earning over £28,750 rose from 28.8 million to 36.5 million in the same period.

According to the group, existing subsidies should be redirected to provide cavity wall insulation for UK households in fuel poverty; provide electricity to every household in the world lacking it and halve the number of people without access to safe drinking water and in sub-Saharan Africa.

It calculates that Britain needs to cut its carbon dioxide emissions by 90 per cent by 2050 to make its contribution to the global fight against climate change - a much bigger reduction than the Government's 60 per cent target.

"Government action now to at least halt the growth in emissions from UK aviation should therefore be viewed as a critical part of the overall effort to tackle climate change," it says.

The report could provide useful ammunition for the Conservative Party, which last week proposed a "green air miles" scheme for higher taxes on people who take more than one short-haul flight each year.

David Cameron told his party's spring conference in Nottingham yesterday: "The truth is that you can't be serious about climate change unless you're serious about aviation.

"We don't have to stop people flying. But we have to take action on emissions."

But Mr Cameron was accused of hypocrisy after it emerged that he used a private plane to fly 93 miles from Oxford to Hereford to meet a businessman who was designing a new wheelchair for his disabled son, Ivan. A spokesman for Mr Cameron said the journey was one of only two private flights the Tory leader took last year and that he offset the carbon emissions from them.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Glazier

£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This specialist historic buildi...

Recruitment Genius: Office and Customer Services Manager

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small but very busy (and f...

Recruitment Genius: Portfolio Administrator

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has become known a...

Recruitment Genius: Mechanical and Electrical Engineer - Midlands

£35000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of refrig...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot