Ryanair chief condemns ‘hypocritical’ shift over EU carbon levies

A decision by EU leaders to block the extension of Europe’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) to long-haul flights has been condemned by Ryanair.

Group chief executive Michael O’Leary attacked the vote by Council of the European Union as “inexplicable and indefensible”.

The “hypocritical” decision by environment ministers in the bloc runs contrary to a recent EU Parliament vote to include long-haul departures from the Continent in ETS schemes.

Expanding ETS to long-haul flights had been backed by MEPs in the European Parliament. 

The ETS forces airlines to buy carbon credits to offset emissions over a certain level.

Europe’s largest budget carrier claimed the decision by EU Council was undemocratic.

Flag carriers such as KLM, Air France and Lufthansa should be required to pay their “fair share” of taxes by including their long-haul flights, that Ryanair claimed account for more than 50% of European aviation CO2 emissions, within Europe’s ETS regime.

O’Leary said: “These EU environment ministers have yet again failed their citizens with their vote to preserve this broken environmental policy which, unless reversed, will enable the richest visitors to/from Europe travelling on the most polluting long-haul flights to evade any environmental taxes, while Europe’s hard-pressed consumers and their families, pay an unfair burden of 100%.”

He called on the environment ministers of Germany, the Netherlands, France, Spain, and others to now “explain why they exempt rich long-haul passengers from paying any environment taxes, while hard-pressed European consumers and their families on short-haul flights, who account for less than 50% of Europe’s aviation CO2 emissions, but pay 100% of the environment taxes”.

O’Leary urged EU member states to reverse this “deeply hypocritical position” and endorse the European Parliament’s vote to apply ETS to all long-haul flights departing from the European mainland.

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