When a friend casually asks why some politicians want to tax aviation

Aarne Granlund
2 min readAug 30, 2019

“Domestic aviation is not the biggest problem, the problem is global growth. 80 % of aviation is 1500+ km. (A certain Nordic airline) will have some electric planes on short routes in ten years to my knowledge.

The reason why aviation is being discussed is the cumulative growth out to 2050: it will produce a massive additional amount of carbon dioxide emissions per year, while e.g. the European Union should be completely decarbonized by then and Nordics certainly earlier.

There are also other problems with jet turbine emissions, namely the high-altitude burning and certain other effects which make the process twice to three times as harmful to the climate as the mere carbon dioxide (2 % of global carbon dioxide emissions would be the size of Germany — Japan). The industry plan is to “off-set the growth” with CDM credits which quite frankly do not produce emissions reductions, some >90 % are total junk. E.g. Brazil has those as stranded assets and they want to get them moving.

Now, the Paris Agreement and consensus science (IPCC reports like the 1.5°C one which is now nearly impossible to accomplish) require every nation to be at net-zero emissions as the scientific framing of mitigation. Net-zero means that there cannot be any carbon dioxide emissions which a certain country produces (on top of this you have consumption accounting which is even harder to decarbonize) that cannot be drawn down artificially.

(That’s my reading of it at least, there are of course various ways to not deliver on that framing but some other political/economic target)

I think it is reasonable to try to aim for 2°C still and fail spectacularly (2°C is already *censored*) which means that all OECD-countries need to have net-zero plans immediately and begin implementing right away.

That means that there cannot be any (ANY) emissions growth past 2020.

Aviation emissions have doubled in the EU from 1990, and are set to double again shortly. What will likely happen is that the EU will put in place taxation and other measures to cut off the excess growth because aviation and shipping have to be taxed if you also want to increase the price of driving. If you don’t have fair climate policy you’ll instantly get Yellow Vests on the street.

I’m somewhat a little less worried about personal cars, EVs are a better product and there will be new models shortly.”

More info on aviation: https://www.carbonbrief.org/corsia-un-plan-to-offset-growth-in-aviation-emissions-after-2020

Aarne Granlund

Climate mitigation expert. Sufficiency is my lifestyle. Fly fishing, skiing, nature.