Richard Branson Says Pay for Your Dirty Business
There have been more rumblings in the aviation world lately about having airlines account for their carbon emissions. Last week, the EU announced their plans to begin instituting a carbon trading program for all flights coming into and out of EU airspace. If the plan is approved, Grist reports, "airlines will have to cut emissions 3 percent in 2012 and 5 percent per year from 2013 on."
Meanwhile Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Group put forth an interesting idea at the Global Humanitarian Forum last week: Make dirty businesses pay a carbon-emissions tax on their pollution. The AP has the details…
"If you run a dirty business — an airline business, a shipping business, … coal business, you should pay for the privilege because you are doing damage," Branson said.
Former UN Secretary Kofi Annan concurred, seeking "climate justice" for the poor, who often bear the brunt of the ecological damage (see: the rice crisis facing many impoverished nations).
I think these are smart ideas. With all the confusion about carbon emissions and the best way to offset them, it stands to reason that the onus of paying for them should not lie only on the traveler (in the form of higher ticket prices, and extra fees). If the airlines were taxed and regulated based on their carbon output, there would be a lot more incentives for them to find cleaner ways to fly. That, and the carbon offsets would apply to all passengers, versus the two, or ten, or twenty who choose to voluntarily offset using a calculator of some kind.
But that’s my opinion, I’d be interested to hear what you think. Let us know in the comments below.
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Photo: Virgin America