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UK Climate Change Advisors Recommend Banning Frequent Flyer Programs to Reduce Emissions

Sustainability News Airports + Flying
by Eben Diskin Oct 15, 2019

Collectors of frequent flyer miles could soon find themselves with thousands of unusable miles. A report commissioned by the UK government’s climate change advisors calls for miles programs to be eliminated, as they encourage frequent flying and therefore CO2 emissions. An Air Miles Levy was also recommended to tax those who fly frequently without penalizing people who merely take an annual vacation. The report, commissioned by the Committee on Climate Change, is allegedly aimed at the 15 percent of the UK population responsible for taking 70 percent of the flights.

According to the report, “The norm of unlimited flying being acceptable needs to be challenged and as a very high polluting luxury, it is suitable to taxation.” The idea behind the recommendations is that “restrictions to ‘all-you-can-fly’ passes and loyalty schemes which offer air miles would remove incentives to excessive or stimulated flying.”

Such a ban, however, would likely have pretty wide-ranging consequences and result in significant backlash from business and leisure travelers alike.

The UK has committed to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and this is just the latest report to suggest how to accomplish this. In a separate report by Dr. Richard Carmichael, professor at Imperial College London, domestic intercity rail prices should be dropped to encourage rail travel, and schools should be required to offer plant-based meal options.

Although some experts have supported the idea, the immense popularity of frequent flyer programs makes it extremely unlikely that they will disappear anytime soon.

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