Economists at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) said that a small tax on international airline tickets could raise $10bn a year. The money could be used to help people adapt to the impacts of climate change.
The idea is laid out in a paper written by Tom Birch and Muyeye Chambwera which will be published online on April 4 to coincide with the Bangkok round of the UN intergovernmental negotiations between 03 and 08 April. The UN climate change convention already has a fund – the Adaptation Fund – but so far it has little money to disburse.
Birch and Chambwera say the airline ticket tax would be ideal because it would be “fair, fast, predictable and cheap to implement”. They also believe it would not harm the aviation industry and tourism-dependent developing nations.
“The beauty of such a tax is that it would follow the’ polluter pays’ principle and transfer resources from those who cause the problem to those who need to adapt to its effects,” says Muyeye Chambwera. “Passengers would barely notice a small tax of just US$6 per economy-class ticket and US$62 for business class tickets but this would generate billions of dollars”, they said.
It is estimated that between now and 2050 the costs of adapting to climate change could reach US$100 billion per year.
“The Adaptation Fund can only be credible if it is supplied with ongoing financing streams of sufficient quantity and quality,” said Tom Birch. “Financing is currently both insufficient and irregular because it is dependent on national political and economic cycles. A tax on international airline tickets is an innovative solution to this political barrier and would mobilize a significant and stable source of finance. It should be implemented as soon as possible.”
Article by Antonio Pasolini, a Brazilian writer and video art curator based in London, UK. He holds a BA in journalism and an MA in film and television.