03 August 2007

Flying for half the price than train - kerosene's subsidy is a loose hot air balloon fueled by tax money

How to waste tax money, distort market competition and kill the climate at the same time? What sounds like an absurd question is reality every day: tax subsidy (or more correctly put exemption) of flights' fuel does the trick!

Take for example: Recently, I wanted to get from Munich, Germany to Geneva, Switzerland. Distance around 600km which you could perfectly do by car, train or flying. Train ticket is around 200€ return. Guess how much flying is? 90€!

I couldn't believe that environmental dubious - but undoubtedly more comfortable - flying is less than half the price if trains, not to mention the cost of a car. So why do we need kerosene's subsidy when it obviously distorts the competition and sets the completely wrong signal in environmental protection and sustainability. Shouldn't have taxes the function of setting the right incentives? Also the money on taxing flights could will be used for development assistance as unitaid does.

Where are the EU, Germany and the US here? Don't you need some $$$ to save the climate or to decrease your debt mountains? That would be real sustainability. And don't tell me that a moderate percentage on these super cheap flights would stop business people flying business class when there companies pay or would harm the economy on a big scale. Maybe it's the power of lobbies? But I can't imagine that the airways industry (kerosene untaxed) is more powerful than the car industry (car fuel heavily taxed). So why is the right thing not happening?

Don't get e wrong here, I am certainly not against flying per se and am a frequent flyer myself. But we just need to show responsibility for our consumption and behavior. Until we get this dangerous tax hole fixed setting off our carbon emission ourselves by initiatives such as Terrapass is a start!