A small tax on international airline tickets could raise US$10 billion a year to help people to adapt to the impacts of climate change, say economists at the International Institute for Environment and Development.
Tom Birch and Muyeye Chambwera make the case for such a tax in a briefing paper (attached) to be published online on Monday 4 April, as the latest round of intergovernmental negotiations on how to tackle climate change get under way in Bangkok, Thailand.
Southern Thailand is in the grip of major floods that have affected close to a million people. This is exactly the kind of impact that scientists say countries and communities will need to adapt to as climate change takes hold.
Birch and Chambwera say that a tax on airline tickets would be an ideal way to generate funds to help people to adapt to such impacts, as it would be fair, fast, predictable, cheap to implement and would not harm the aviation industry or 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.”
Between now and 2050 the costs of adapting to climate change could reach US$100 billion per year, according to some estimates.
At the United Nations negotiations, which run from 3-8 April, 193 governments will discuss how to generate this money. The UN climate change convention already has a fund – the Adaptation Fund – but so far it has little money to disburse.
"The Adaptation Fund can only be credible if it is supplied with ongoing financing streams of sufficient quantity and quality,” says 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 mobilise a significant and stable source of finance. It should be implemented as soon as possible."
Tom Birch (email@example.com) +44 (0)2073882117
International Institute for Environment and Development
3 Endsleigh Street
London WC1H 0DD
Tel: 44 (0) 207 388 2117
Fax: 44 (0) 207 388 2826