Flights of Folly as Aviation sends Emissions Sky-Rocketing

23rd October 2018
Press Release

The proposed major expansion at Dublin Airport flies in the face of the Irish government’s solemn commitments on climate action and will only serve to further undermine international efforts to reduce emissions and so stabilise the climate system, according to An Taisce.

Transport minister Shane Ross was quoted in the media today predicting: "an explosion of passengers through Dublin airport by 2050, to over 50 or 60 million people…a dramatic expansion of the airport would be needed to accommodate them." Dublin Airport is on target to handle 30 million passengers in 2018. (SEAI projections show Ireland’s domestic primary energy demand for jet kerosene for aviation increasing by 63% from 2013 to 2035.

Meanwhile, construction of a €320m runway, taxiways and other infrastructure is due to get underway later this year. “All of this headlong expansion of capacity is locking in long term investment in completely unsustainable levels of aviation, with the Revenue Commissioners exemption of jet kerosene from mineral oil tax keeping the cost of flying artificially low”, according to John Gibbons spokesperson for An Taisce's Climate Change Committee. As the EU’s own environment agency recently highlighted, airlines pay no fuel taxes, and VAT is only charged on domestic flights.

This represents a huge loss both to the Revenue and also to the environment, as the true costs of flying are not borne either by the airline industry or the flying public. Then transport minister, Leo Varadkar in 2014 abolished the modest air travel tax, a populist move that revealed the now Taoiseach’s disengagement from environmental sustainability and the government’s reckless ongoing disregard for the safety of our children.

Prof. Peter Thorne of Maynooth University calculated recently that: “The true cost of carbon, if accounting for the warming impact, is likely somewhere in the range of €150 - €200 per tonne. It’s currently taxed at 10% of that level. The result is a huge IOU to future generations.”

Were a carbon tax of this range levied on aviation, the cost of a return flight from Dublin to New York, for instance (which generates nearly 1.5 tonnes of C02 equivalent per person) would rise by around €260. This is much closer to reflecting the true environmental costs of aviation, while reducing non-essential flying and raising revenue to deliver more emission reductions equitably.

Instead, the government recently welched on Taoiseach Varadkar’s commitment to a very modest increase of €10 per tonne in carbon tax, capitulating to its own backbench TDs. “When, from 2020 onwards, Ireland is hit with annual EU fines running into hundreds of millions of euros for failing to meet our emissions targets, will these same TDs be putting their hands up to take responsibility?”, John Gibbons added.

ENDS

For further information, contact:
John Gibbons, An Taisce Climate Change Committee: +353 87 233 2689
Charles Stanley-Smith, Communications, An Taisce. Tel: +353 87 241 1995
email: publicaffairs@antaisce.org
An Taisce The National Trust for Ireland

About An Taisce

An Taisce is a charity that works to preserve and protect Ireland's natural and built heritage. We are an independent charitable voice for the environment and for heritage issues. We are not a government body, semi-state or agency. Founded in 1948, we are one of Ireland’s oldest and largest environmental organisations.