Credit: studioportosabbia/istock

Commenting on reports today (Tuesday 14 January 2020) that the Government is to consider cuts to Air Passenger Duty, Professor Sam Fankhauser, Director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science, said:

“The proposal to cut the Air Passenger Duty in order to help Flybe would likely lead to a rise in greenhouse gas emissions from flights landing and taking off from UK airports. The APD is applied as a green tax, based broadly on the principle that the polluter pays. Its rates are charged broadly according to the distance travelled and the class in which a passenger travels. Cutting or removing the APD would essentially reduce or eliminate the carbon price for flying and would be inconsistent with the UK’s long-term target of reaching net zero emissions by 2050. It would also be inconsistent with the UK’s international leadership role as President of the United Nations climate change summit this year.

“Clearly the UK needs an effective and integrated transport system that allows affordable and sustainable travel around the country. This means more investments in clean and efficient public transport networks, and a cost-effective approach to ensuring no regions are left behind. However, the Government should not subsidise pollution and needs to apply an effective carbon price across all sectors of the economy. If the Government is reviewing the APD, it should consider turning it into a pure carbon tax, so that passengers are charged at a rate that reflects the emissions that are created. There is no reasonable case for making flying a special case that is exempt from a carbon price.”


  1. The Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment ( was launched at the London School of Economics and Political Science in October 2008. It is funded by The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment (


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