9 May 2019

Ingrid Robeyns calls for EU-wide air travel tax to combat climate change

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The European Union must initiate a process that leads to high taxes on air travel in all European member states, Prof. Ingrid Robeyns (Ethics Institute) argues in an article in the volume Twelve Stars. If only a few countries were to introduce such a climate tax, this would create an unfair price advantage for the neighbouring airports. "It would be better for all concerned if such a tax existed, it would help us to protect the climate," says Robeyns.

Prof. dr. Ingrid Robeyns
Prof. Ingrid Robeyns


Right now, air travel companies are grossly and unfairly advantaged over firms that offer transportation via other means (e.g. trains, buses) since there is no tax on the kerosene used by airplanes. This makes it very hard for other means of transportation to compete with airplanes.

Emission of greenhouse gases

This is especially problematic in connection with the emission of greenhouse gases by airplanes. Also, under the status quo, airline passengers do not pay for the damage they cause by emitting greenhouse gases. Since it is widely believed that polluters (and not other parties) should pay for the damage they cause, one should increase the price of transport (of people and goods) by air so as to reflect that pollution.

twelve stars

The twelve stars in Europe’s flag symbolize Europe’s unity in diversity. The Twelve Stars project starts a debate between citizens and practical philosophers from all over Europe to discuss proposals for the future of the European Union. More than two dozen philosophers present their proposals. Based on your contributions to innovative online debates, the authors revised their arguments and wrote short essays. More information on the project is available here. All twelve articles are available here (open access).