Taxing aviation fuel sold in Europe would cut airline emissions by 11%, a leaked European Commission report reveals.

The amount would be the equivalent of 16.4 million tonnes of CO2 and have no net impact on jobs or the economy as a whole while raising almost €27 billion in revenues a year.

The reduction in carbon emissions would be equivalent to removing almost eight million cars from the road.

European campaign group Transport & Environment said the study, finalised last year but yet to be made public, debunks the industry’s myth that the economy would be irreparably damaged if airlines were required to pay excise duty on the fuel they burn.

Airlines operating in Europe do not pay excise duty on the fuel they take on at EU airports.

Carriers are not even taxed on domestic flights where, taxation barriers were lifted in 2003 the report is said to show.

However, jet fuel taken on for domestic aviation has been taxed for many years in countries such as the US, Australia, Japan, Canada and even Saudi Arabia.

Bill Hemmings, aviation director of Transport & Environment, said: “Aviation’s decades-long kerosene tax holiday needs to end now. This is essential to fight climate change and will help the millions afflicted by unbearable aircraft noise. Europe’s unique and deplorable status as a kerosene tax haven is indefensible.”

The leaked study reportedly points out that the Chicago Convention “does not explicitly prohibit the taxation of jet fuel”, only the taxation of fuel remaining on board an aircraft upon arrival from another state.

T&E argues that European member states have long had the power to start taxing kerosene, but have failed to do so.

Hemmings added: “Flying is the fastest way of frying the planet. The kerosene tax exemption subsidises frequent fliers and business travel, fuelling runaway emissions and depriving government budgets.

“It’s high time finance and climate ministers woke up to this reality and put an end to it.”

Airlines were found by T&E analysis of EU emissions data earlier this month to be the biggest carbon emitters in four European countries last year and were among the top ten emitters in another 12.

The advisory Committee on Climate Change recently said the UK’s planned increase in aviation would need to be curbed to restrict CO2 – casting a potential shadow on Heathrow’s plans for a third runway.

However, the Department for Transport defended the proposed Heathrow expansion, saying it would “provide a massive economic boost to businesses and communities” across the UK, all at “no cost to the taxpayer and within our environmental obligations”.3

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