Great Britain has just announced a plan that promotes the use of clean energy in developing countries. The originality of this initiative lies in its financing: each time a minister or a member of the government travels by plane, his ministry 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 organization will be responsible for calculating the amount due for each trip according to the number of kilometers traveled and the altitude.
Indeed, the scientific community agrees that an aircraft in service pollutes more at high altitude than at low altitude. This funding will be used for projects such as solar cookers in India or improving the insulation system in homes in South Africa. Environmentalists say they are satisfied with a measure that is responsible for CO2 emissions.
The “Department for Transport” (DfT) is not officially part of this new plan today. Some senior officials in the UK administration are unwilling to draw attention to the role of transport in Climate Change as emissions from cars and airplanes are increasing.
DEFRA, however, hopes to involve the DfT as soon as possible. John Gummer, Former Conservative Minister of the Environment, said the idea was excellent and innovative, however, he said, this should not mask the increase in emissions from the aviation sector and government inaction around the problem.