Carbon pricing and a frequent flyer levy at heart of Lib Dem plans to combat climate change

The Liberal Democrats say they want to bring in a frequent flyer levy by reforming Air Passenger Duty to target the most frequent flyers.

The Liberal Democrats have placed carbon pricing and a levy on frequent flyers at the heart of their plans to tackle climate change, weeks before the UK hosts the COP26 climate summit.

The party says that it recognises that increasing the cost of using fossil fuels through carbon taxes, emissions trading schemes or other pricing instruments had to play an important part in decarbonising the British economy as fast as possible, but that there are dangers in applying too blunt an approach.

It says it wants to make use of carbon pricing policies in a bid to target the biggest polluters and those activities where emissions can most swiftly be reduced, in a way that is fair to individuals and businesses. It’s proposals on carbon pricing relieved overwhelming support at conference.

Lord Oates, the party’s Lords Spokesperson for Energy and Climate Change said that plan on carbon pricing was a plan for an effective and rapid decarbonisation of the British economy focused on a number of key principles.

He said: “Firstly, ensuring the burdens of decarbonisation are shared equitably, secondly targeting the biggest polluters and those activities where emissions can be reduced most rapidly.

“Thirdly providing support and incentives to small emitters such as households to reduce their emissions before applying carbon pricing to their energy bills. Fourthly integrating carbon pricing with regulation, subsidy and information to achieve a faster and better outcome than taxation could achieve alone.’

Among the policy proposals included in the motion are plans limit the growth in demand for flights by ensuring that no net increase in airport runways across the UK takes place and banning flights where direct rail transport is available for the same journey, up to 2.5 hours, unless planes are alternative-fuelled.

Also included is a plan for a frequent flyer levy by reforming Air Passenger Duty to target the most frequent flyers and introducing VAT on first- class and business travel.

The party also set out detailed plans to strengthen the UK Emissions Trading System and to make it more efficient. Under the system the total level of permitted carbon emissions is capped and businesses covered by an emissions trading scheme (ETS) must buy a ‘permit’ or ‘allowance’ for each unit of their emissions. It means there is a price on each unit of emissions, and the idea is that the cost of emissions should encourage businesses to try and push their total emissions down.

The Lib Dems say they want to raise the price of allowances in the UK Emissions Trading System,  by reducing their number and increasing the auction reserve price, thereby strengthening the incentives for large emitters to cut emissions.

Basit Mahmood is co-editor of Left Foot Forward

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