EAC label Department of Transport's 'failure of purpose' and call for a rise in air travel taxGreen Party Principal Speaker Keith Taylor commented: "The government insists that tackling climate change is a priority, but as today's report shows, they have failed dismally to match any of their rhetoric with action.

"The Green Party supports calls for the return of the fuel-duty escalator, scrapped after the fuel protests, so that petrol and diesel become progressively more expensive year by year.

Taxation has an important role to play in changing people's behaviour, and the government's efforts in this direction have, so far, been contemptible. This is particularly true of Gordon Brown's recent budget - banding of vehicle excise duty is gesture politics in response to the staggering growth in the number of SUVs; gas guzzling cars must hit the pocket much harder to ensure people make more environmentally friendly choices.

"Airlines currently enjoy a complex array of tax breaks and hidden subsidies - worth more than £9 billion in the UK alone - which are outdated and totally incompatible with reducing carbon emissions. The Green Party have long called for an end to these unfair benefits, with the introduction of fuel tax on aviation fuel and emission charges and increased landing charges on aircraft, reflecting our belief in the 'polluter pays' principle.

"Progress on removing this financial sponsorship and getting the industry to pay its way has been pitifully slow because our government lacks the political courage. Tony Blair has presided over the greatest expansion of aviation in a generation, helping ensure transport is the only sector of the UK economy where carbon emissions have risen consistently since 1990, with emissions from air traffic doubling since 1990 and set to quintuple!

Mr Taylor also questioned a member of the Environmental Audit Commission, Stephen Ladyman MP's, assertion that taxing people off planes would hit poorer people and stop them taking holidays abroad - "What we need is a system which effectively taxes inefficient airlines or taxes those airlines that don't invest in the more modern aeroplanes," said Mr Ladyman.

Keith Taylor responded: "It is worth considering the growing evidence which suggests that decreasing ticket prices mean that the wealthy fly more often, rather than that those who did not fly previously now do. The Civil Aviation Authority's Passenger Survey in 2003 found that the average passenger salary at low-fare airline airport Stansted in the UK was £46,000, while a report by the Institute for Public Policy Research in the UK also showed that the top three social classes take more than 75% of low cost flights.

"Clearly, suggestions that flight numbers are rising as a result of an increase in poorer people taking more flights is misleading - it is richer people flying more often that is spearheading the dangerous increase in carbon emissions." "The government has to make up its mind if it's serious about tackling pollution and climate change, in which case it will encourage sustainable travel and curb high emission outputs from aircraft or SUVs, or whether it will continue to promote growth in these industries - it can't have it both ways." see http://www.greenparty.org.uk for more information.