Frequent flyers are rewarded for polluting. Let them pay the full price

(The Guardian, 27 Nov 2023) A progressive carbon tax on flying would protect poor people far more than simply abandoning green policies.

Is net zero a “luxury belief”? A strange assumption seems to have become knitted into the climate debate: that the burden of cutting carbon emissions will – must, inevitably – fall hardest on the poor.

This is the logic by which climate activists are sometimes deemed snobby, classist virtue-signallers – and the principle on which, earlier this year, Rishi Sunak signalled a tactical retreat on green policies. “It cannot be right for Westminster to impose such significant costs on working people,” the prime minister said. Because, of course, this is the group such policies would hurt the most.

But this is not a law of nature. It’s a choice. There is nothing inherent to environmental policies that means ordinary people must bear the brunt of them, although we have tended to organise things that way. A more progressive approach, whereby the richest pay more for the business of hoovering up carbon and blasting it into the atmosphere, is perfectly possible. But for some reason this seems not to have occurred to policymakers such as Sunak, who was reported in August to have taken a private plane or helicopter every eight days of his premiership.

External link

The Guardian, 27 Nov 2023: Frequent flyers are rewarded for polluting. Let them pay the full price