December 18, 2023

Aviation’s Environmental Wake-Up Call: Proposing a Bold $12 CO2 Levy for a Greener Future!

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Ole Hammer Mortensen

Ole Hammer Mortensen

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Ole Hammer Mortensen

Ole Hammer Mortensen

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In a recent BBC interview, Willie Walsh, the chairman of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), echoed familiar refrains from the airline industry. His remarks, mirroring those of airline executives for over six decades, focused on heavy investments, the fluctuating cost of fuel, and the industry’s notoriously slim profit margins. However, what truly stood out was his defensive stance, particularly concerning CO2 emissions.

Walsh repeated the long-disputed claim that aviation contributes only 2-2.5% to global CO2 emissions, conveniently ignoring evidence suggesting figures closer to 4-6%. This understatement, coupled with a lack of acknowledgment of the industry’s role in emitting other hazardous chemical substances, points to a broader issue: the aviation industry’s defensive and misleading approach to environmental responsibilities.

It’s not just the misinformation that’s concerning but the apparent lack of genuine effort to innovate beyond aircraft technology. For instance, the service carts used by flight attendants haven’t evolved in 60 years. Given that the airline industry facilitates 2.6 billion trips annually, playing a vital role in global tourism and business, this stagnation is alarming.
The sector is a significant enabler of international meetings, including crucial events like COP28, which makes its contribution to CO2 emissions and other environmental impacts all the more significant.

To address this, I propose a bold step: the implementation of a mandatory $12 CO2 levy on every departure. This fee, while seemingly modest, could generate approximately $33 billion annually. Such a fund, managed by a consortium of experts, financiers, and public figures, could invest in projects aimed at offsetting carbon emissions and ultimately replacing fossil fuels.

While airline executives might protest, citing the industry’s narrow margins, it’s crucial to remember that airlines have historically imposed various surcharges, including fuel surcharges, security fees, airport charges, and even government taxes. Adding a CO2 levy would not only be feasible but also ethically imperative.

This levy would represent a significant step towards environmental accountability in the aviation industry. By uniformly applying this fee and directing the funds to neutral management, we could avoid competitive disadvantages. More importantly, it would underscore the true cost and value of global travel, setting a precedent for other industries to follow in taking responsibility for their environmental impact.

In conclusion, it’s time for the airline industry to wake up and take decisive action. With the proposed CO2 levy, the industry can demonstrate true leadership in environmental stewardship, proving that it is possible to balance economic viability with ecological responsibility.

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