Slashing Air Passenger Duty to create same CO2 emissions as 2.3m extra train journeys

The Conservatives’ plans to cut air passenger duty on domestic flights will see a significant spike in CO2 emissions equivalent to 2.3 million extra train journeys, analysis by the Liberal Democrats shows.

It comes as world leaders meet for today’s crucial COP26 summit and after the Chancellor failed to give a single mention to the word climate in his Budget speech last week.

The Liberal Democrats are calling for the Government to cancel the slashing of Air Passenger Duty and invest in zero-carbon domestic flights instead.

The Office for Budget Responsibility estimates that reducing Air Passenger Duty will see an extra 410,000 passenger journeys on internal UK flights. The average UK domestic flight generates 223kg of CO2 equivalent, meaning that this policy will lead to a 91 million kg increase in UK CO2 emissions – the same as an extra 50,000 cars or 2.3m train journeys. Taking the train on equivalent routes generates just 39kg of CO2 emissions.

The move takes the UK in an opposite direction to some of its neighbours. France is taking steps to ban some internal flights on routes where a direct train that takes two and a half hours or less is available.

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for the Climate Emergency, Wera Hobhouse MP, said: “Cutting tax on the most carbon-intensive form of flying as world leaders meet for COP26 is almost as damaging to the UK’s global reputation as it is to our climate targets and planet.

Wera Hobhouse

“The Chancellor’s budget did nothing for the climate. Rishi Sunak didn’t mention the word ‘climate’ once in his speech. But the Tories have been brazenly lecturing other countries about cutting emissions over the weekend. They are the party of pollution.

“Leadership on climate action should start at home. This completely counterproductive tax cut on domestic flights must be cancelled and the government should support the aviation industry with new investment that ensures all UK domestic flights are zero-carbon by the end of the decade.”

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