Urgent action needed on aviation greenhouse gas emissions says An Taisce

4th December 2019
Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

At COP25 on Dec 3 World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), a specialized agency of the United Nations, launched a major report "Transforming Tourism for Climate Action" [1].  The report is alarming in its projection of continuing increase in aviation emissions. Carbon emissions from international tourist arrivals in 2030 are predicted to total 616 megatonnes (Mt) of CO2, a drastic increase from the 397 Mt CO2 in 2016. Emissions from domestic tourist arrivals are projected to increase from 282 Mt CO2 in 2016 to 376 Mt CO2 in 2030.

An Taisce’s Head of Advocacy, Ian Lumley, spoke at the publicity launch event for the report seeking information on what follow up action the UNWTO now proposes to address the inadequacy of the greenhouse gas mitigation measures being advanced by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) under its carbon offsetting scheme, CORSIA [2]. 

As a matter of immediate action, the lacuna on aviation emissions in the Paris Agreement needs to be resolved with effective greenhouse gas mitigation and a range of measures including:

  • Ending the global exemption of aviation from tax which amounts to a fossil fuel subsidy;
  • Investing in enhanced renewably powered rail connections to replace the most heavily used short haul flight routes;
  • Taxing rather than rewarding frequent fliers.                             

The EU is now initiating action on the tax issue – a meeting of the EU finance ministers is taking place on 5th December to discuss draft conclusions on energy taxation, including aviation [3]. If Ireland wants to be a leader and not a laggard on climate action, a progressive stance needs to be taken on the aviation tax issue by Finance Minister Pascal Donohoe.

An Taisce has requested a meeting with the UNWTO Executive Director, Manuel Butler Halter, in Madrid before end of COP 25 on follow up actions to be taken based on the Transforming Tourism for Climate Action report [4].

Contact

Ian Lumley, Head of Advocacy, 00353 83 153 2384 / 00353 1 454 1786

ENDS

NOTES

[1] UNWTO report, Transport-related CO2 Emissions of the Tourism Sector – Modelling Results: https://www.e-unwto.org/doi/book/10.18111/9789284416660

[2] CORSIA carbon offsetting scheme: https://www.icao.int/environmental-protection/CORSIA/Pages/default.aspx

[3] Media advisory issued by Transport & Environment (of which An Taisce is a member) ahead of a meeting of EU finance ministers taking place on Thursday 5th December: https://www.transportenvironment.org/press/finance-ministers-discuss-ending-aviations-tax-holiday-%E2%80%93-media-advisory

[4] Text of letter from Ian Lumley requesting meeting with UNWTO Executive Director, Manuel Butler Halter, in Madrid before end of COP 25:

To Virginia Fernandez-Trapa.      Programme Officer Sustainable Development In Tourism UN World Tourism Organisation Madrid

4 Dec 2019   From Ian Lumley, Head of Advocacy, An Taisce - The National Trust for Ireland and Organization member of Transport & Environment T&E 

Re. Meeting Request with UNWTO Executive Director Manuel Butler Halter in Madrid before end of COP 25 on follow up action on "Transforming tourism for climate action" report

Dear Ms. Fernandez-Trapa,

Further to my question raised at the COP launch of  "Transforming tourism for climate action" report and our discussion after, I am formally requesting follow up. 

The UNWTO is to be commended for commissioning and publishing such a comprehensive research report. The report is alarming in its projection in continuing increase in aviation emissions.                         

I wish to raise the question of what action the UNWTO will now take, and request a meeting with your Director General Manuel Butler Halter in Madrid before the end of COP 25.

I am in particular seeking a response as to what action UNWTO now proposes to take to address the inadequacy of the measures on GHG mitigation being advanced by International Civil Aviation Organization ICAO under the CORSIA offsetting scheme.

As a matter of immediate action, the lacuna on aviation Emissions in the Paris Agreement needs to be resolved with effective GHG mitigation.                

Secondly the global exemption of aviation from tax, which amounts to a fossil fuel subsidy, must end.

The EU is now initiating action on the tax issue. See attached a media advisory note and infographic issued by Transport & Environment to journalists ahead of the Council meeting of EU Finance ministers taking place on today 4 Dec which will be discussing draft conclusions on energy taxation (including aviation). 

As a matter of ethical principle I have refused to fly either to conferences or for personal holiday travel for over a decade. It is unacceptable that the evasion of tax and maintenance of other direct and indirect subsidies by civil aviation should make rail travel more expensive for journeys such as Madrid to London which I will be making after COP closes at end of next week.                                                      

I look forward to meeting Mr. Butler Halter in Madrid and to ongoing constructive engagement with UNWTO.                                            

With Thanks,                                              

Ian Lumley.  00353 83 153 2384