Thank you to all those who contacted me about aviation, climate change and the potential for a frequent flyer levy (FFL). As the largest contributor to UK emissions, we must prioritise decarbonising our transport sector.
The Government has cut Air Passenger Duty on domestic flights, despite warnings this would encourage a move away from lower carbon forms of transport such as rail. At a time when public finances are under severe pressure, household budgets are being stretched and the cost of inaction on climate change grows by the day, I do not believe a tax cut for frequent flyers should be the Government’s priority for spending public money.
In addition, the UK’s Climate Change Committee has highlighted that the long-term price trend for rail travel shows a 32% increase on 2009 levels compared to a 10% decrease for short haul business flights. Fairness and giving people alternatives are key to a green transition, yet the Government is not making the investments needed to encourage people to use public transport for those journeys. Instead, when it comes to public transport such as rail, we see people paying more for less, with delays and overcrowding, while routes and services are cut.
We know there is no ‘silver bullet’ when it comes to decarbonising aviation and we have much further to go. The Government’s net zero aviation strategy is falling short of meeting the challenges we face. It has made it clear it is not considering a frequent flyer levy as part of its strategy.
Potential solutions to aviation’s air pollution impacts are beginning to be developed, but Government inaction is putting the development of emerging green technologies at risk. Such technologies produce well-paid, good and often unionised jobs, but we need Government action to secure the necessary investment. Airspace modernisation would also reduce emissions, yet we continue to see a lack of Government progress on this as well.
We need urgent action to put climate at the heart of the agenda for a fairer, greener future – one that links prosperity, social justice and climate justice.