EUROCONTROL Think Paper #7 - Does taxing aviation really reduce emissions?

Modern airplane on landing strip

While there is growing consensus on the need to tax aviation more in order achieve the goal of zero carbon emissions by 2050, are taxes really effective in this regard?

EUROCONTROL’s latest Think Paper, the seventh in a series of thought-provoking papers aimed at industry leaders and policy-makers and using exclusive EUROCONTROL aviation data, aims to help in the debate.

It examines whether taxes on aviation fuel or air tickets, or equivalent measures, do effectively contribute to reducing aviation emissions. It assesses the degree to which aviation taxes could help reduce the aviation sector’s CO2 emissions in the current COVID context, given the slow economic recovery; and it estimates the extent to which CO2 emissions goals could be met by decarbonising the aviation sector.

It finds that there is little evidence that taxing aviation per se directly lowers CO2 emissions; nor do raising fuel prices or ticket prices reduce CO2 emissions. It shows that economic output is the main factor influencing demand, and hence higher or lower CO2 emissions – and underlines that as long-distance air traffic dominates aviation emissions, efforts must be targeted on this segment if a reduction in CO2 emissions is to be achieved.

And it concludes that the best way to reduce aviation’s CO2 emissions is to support decarbonisation measures, with any European tax to reduce emissions ideally ring-fenced to fund such initiatives.

Download the full paper to learn more.

Think Papers are produced to stimulate debate and look at alternatives. They do not represent the official view of the Agency or its Member States.


EUROCONTROL Think Paper: Does taxing aviation really reduce emissions?