Tobacco-style warnings urged for flights

Cigarette-style warnings should be introduced on flights to alert people to the effect aircraft emissions have on the climate, a think tank has said.

As Britons prepare to jet away for the Easter weekend the IPPR think tank said people should be told about the effects of flying at the moment of purchase with warnings such as Flying Causes Climate Change accompanied by CO2 facts.

Potential long-haul passengers should know that they will contribute more greenhouse gas emissions by flying to Australia and back than they are likely to produce over an entire year – 4500 kg of CO2 compared with the 4400 kg emitted by an average Briton over a year.

For the short-haul flights that are likely to dominate the great Easter weekend getaway, customers should be made aware that a flight emits around three to four times that of a train journey over the same distance.

While a person flying from London to Paris and back will emit 110 kg, the same journey by Eurostar will only produce 27kg per person.

Simon Retallack, ippr head of climate change, said: “The evidence that aviation damages the atmosphere is just as clear as the evidence that smoking kills.

“We know that smokers notice health warnings on cigarettes, and we have to tackle our addiction to flying in the same way.

“But if we are to change people’s behaviour, warnings must be accompanied by offering people alternatives to short-haul flights and by steps to make the cost of flying better reflect its impact on the environment.”

The recommendations are made in the IPPR’s Positive Energy: Harnessing people power to prevent climate change report, to be published in full in April, which also recommends:

  • Passengers should be required to opt-out rather than into carbon offsetting
  • Aviation taxes should reflect the true environmental cost of emissions
  • Increases in aviation taxes should be matched with improvements to rail transport
  • The UK should work with other EU countries to better integrate the fragmented European rail network
  • All new cars should be eco-labelled
  • Car adverts should carry warnings about the contribution of driving to climate change

    Goska Romanowicz

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