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7. Congestion charges for air traffic

7.1 The Green Party advocates the full internalisation of external costs - the polluter should pay for the costs of pollution. But the government will not even consider introducing aviation fuel taxes until the international community as a whole does, and this is currently expressly forbidden under the Chicago Convention. Moreover, the US government (if not the British) may be expected to strenuously oppose such taxes.

7.2 The Greens on the London Assembly believe that Heathrow's hidden costs of £857 million should be reclaimed through a combination of fuel taxes and congestion charging. As a starting point, we might aim to raise one-fifth of the total through an emissions charge - just as motorists in London will be paying both tax on fuel and a congestion charge. This would mean raising £171.4 million a year from Heathrow airport.

7.3 Heathrow's income for 2000 was £712 million. A £171.4 million a year emissions charge, passed on to the airport's customers, would be recovered (all other things being equal) by a 24% increase in its charges to customers, from airlines to retail franchises.

8. Recommendations

8.1 We recommend the following policy:

a. Zurich-style emissions charging should be introduced, on a zero-cost basis as at Zurich, in order to encourage use of the least dirty engine technology by aircraft operators.

b. In addition, congestion charging for air traffic at Heathrow should be introduced in order ultimately to help reduce air traffic. The initial target should be set at  £170 million a year. This would most practicably be applied according to formulas taking into account:

(1) Number of air transport movements (ATMs).

(2) Factors mitigating the pollution level of individual ATMs, such as whether an aircraft is full or not and so causes less pollution per passenger kilometre.

Notes

1. Heathrow's air transport movements (ATMs) in 2002 numbered 460,292, representing some 22.75% of the UK total of 2,023,097. Source: Civil Aviation Authority, http://www.caa.co.uk/docs/80/airport_data/2002annual/Table_04_1_Air_Transport_Movements_2002.pdf .

2. Refs: Department of Transport, telcon 3.7.02: UK aviation currently emits 1 million tonnes of CO2 per annum.

3. See Whitelegg & Fitz-Gibbon, Aviation's Economic Downside, www.greenparty.org.uk/reports.

4. According to the CAA, subsonic aviation globally currently contributes between 2-3% of the carbon dioxide emitted from all fossil-fuel combustion: http://www.caa.co.uk/dap/environment/default.asp?page=52 . However, to this must be added the global warming effects of water vapour from aircraft contrails, which may account of for 1% of warming, and the effects of nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution which, being especially damaging when emitted at the altitude at which international aircraft fly, may equal aviation's contribution to climate change from CO2. See Aircraft and our Atmosphere: Air Transport and Global Warming, Green Party Transport Policy Group, May 1997.

5. Estimated on the basis that Heathrow accounts for 22.75% of UK air transport movements and therefore roughly that percentage of the pollution therefrom. 22.75% of £3.767 billion = £856,992,500. 22.75% of the cost of climate change, £2.148 billion a year, = £488,670,000.

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