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Concern for the environment reopens debate on the need for a green tax for commercial aviation.

The debate proposes to tax the main fuel used in Civil Aviation or the imposition of a unified VAT on each ticket in order to reduce the carbon footprint in the European Union.

The growing global concern about the effects of greenhouse gases has motivated some airlines to invest in the development and integration of biofuels that have a less harmful effect on the environment.

The objective is that these fuels are compatible with current aircraft so that it does not represent a major investment in their adaptation. Currently fuels are made from organic waste such as sugar, wheat, corn or oilseeds.

The evolution of biofuels

There are many airlines that have implemented programs to include these fuels in their operations, however, according to Hugo Mertens of the Meetin portal, it is still not considered a stable resource despite the fact that several years ago trials were being carried out on commercial flights. In 2008 the European Union approved that the 10% of the fuel comes from renewable sources in 2020 (however their expectations are that by 2025 it will be 1% and by 2030 it will be 3.5%).

The industry is aware that existing biofuels are not a definitive solution and are conducting research in other promising fields while promoting initiatives such as recycling, digitalization and responsible catering to reduce their environmental impact.


According to Forbes, the most promising biofuels today come from (McMahon, 2019):

  • Salicornia bigelovii
  • Energy cane (from the sugar cane family)
  • Waste gas
  • Waste wood
  • Wastes from logging
  • Urban solid waste
  • Palm oil


However, the concerns of those who defend the environment go further, and believe that it is not enough to give incentives to airlines to investigate, but require that there are penalties and regulations that sanction the increase of their carbon footprint (Wang, 2018).

Legislation and the environment

During the past Council of European Ministers of the Environment that took place last Tuesday, March 5, Walloon Minister Jean-Luc Crucke, on behalf of Belgium, considers that "(...) The European Union should play a leading role in the setting fair and correct rates for air transport according to its impact on the environment" and reopens the debate on the need to impose a green rate and burn kerosene, a fuel that has been exempt since 1944.

Among the arguments presented is the strong increase in CO2 emissions from aircraft (21% in the last 3 years) and its share in the global emission of greenhouse gases.

This motion was initially supported by France, Sweden, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Alternatively, the green fee will be charged each ticket with a unified VAT rate (today it exists only in some countries and always for domestic operations). It is estimated that an increase of 0.33 cents per liter in the Inter-European connections would raise about 9.500 million additional euros. (ARROYO, 2019)

Some experts believe that this measure goes against the principles of promoting civil aviation and the improvement in international connections for which the exemption on this fuel was created 75 years ago. Additionally, it is stated that in the medium term the monetary effect of this measure will be completely transferred to the final consumer and that a more appropriate solution should be the promotion of alternative fuels instead of fiscal hardening. Experts say it is important to bear in mind that any measure must consider the disparity of air activity in the different territories, because nothing has to do with Dutch or Belgian airspace with French, Spanish or Italian. (Vilarasau, 2019)

The Association of Spanish Air Transport Companies (ACETA) asks the government to reject any attempt to tax the aviation sector in Europe on the grounds that this will have a negative effect on "air connectivity and tourism", two fundamental axes for growth .

This debate will surely follow at the next Environment Council to be held in June.



ARROYO, S. (5 de Marzo de 2019). Burgosconecta. Obtenido de Burgosconecta

McMahon, J. (24 de Enero de 2019). Forbes. Obtenido de Forbes

Vilarasau, D. R. (11 de Marzo de 2019). Hosteltur. Obtenido de Hosteltur

Wang, U. (5 de Noviembre de 2018). Greenbiz

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