Members of Parliament pay for the air they pollute

Britain has just announced a plan to promote the use of clean energy in developing countries. The originality of this initiative lies in its funding: each time a minister or a member of the government travels by plane, his department will have to pay a tax. This new plan will be put into action next month with at least three participating ministries, the "Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs" (DEFRA), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (FCO) and the "Department for International Development" ( DFID). These departments are the ones whose employees travel the most. They could finance this fund to the tune of 500.000 pounds each year. An independent body will be responsible for calculating the amount due for each trip based on the number of kilometers traveled and the altitude.

Indeed the scientific community agrees to say that a plane in service pollutes more at high altitude than at low altitude. This funding will be used for projects such as solar ovens in India or the improvement of the insulation system in homes in South Africa. Environmentalists say they are satisfied with a measure that claims to be responsible for CO2 emissions.

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The “Department for Transport” (DfT) is not officially part of this new plan today. Some senior officials in the British administration do not wish to draw attention to the role of transport in Climate Change since emissions from cars and planes are increasing.

DEFRA hopes, however, to involve the DfT as soon as possible. John Gummer, Former Conservative Minister for the Environment, said the idea was excellent and innovative, but this should not, in his view, conceal the increase in emissions from the aviation sector and the government's stagnation around this problem.


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