Aviation fuel tax essential for greenhouse emissions cap, says ADPD

The Green Party says that it is in Malta's interest that the impact of tourism is contained, as it will be amongst the first to suffer from a sea level increase

ADPD Chairperson Carmel Cacopardo stated that the initiative is aimed at ensuring that the price of an air flight includes all costs, including those caused by greenhouse emissions
ADPD Chairperson Carmel Cacopardo stated that the initiative is aimed at ensuring that the price of an air flight includes all costs, including those caused by greenhouse emissions

ADPD – The Green Party is in support of a tax on aviation fuel, saying it is one of the essential measures required to reduce greenhouse emissions by 2030.

Party Chairperson Carmel Cacopardo referred to the impact of tourism and air travel on climate. “Currently there is an ongoing debate regarding a tax on aviation fuel. This is one of the essential measures needed to enable the reduction of 55 per cent of greenhouse emissions by 2030,” Cacopardo said.

Airline tickets will increase substantially in the near future as Europe prepares to legislate necessary rules to replace polluting, fossil jet fuel with SAF – sustainable aviation fuel. MEPs adopted a position on the draft EU rules, that will force EU airports to have flights uplifting a minimum share of SAF, starting from just 2% in 2025, right up to 85% by 2050.

Cacopardo stated that the initiative is aimed at ensuring that the price of an air flight includes all costs, including those caused by greenhouse emissions.

On Friday Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association President Tony Zahra insisted that the tax could potentially push up airline tickets by an average of €60 and "destroy" the hotel industry.

Cacopardo said the reduction of greenhouse emissions was possible either through a tax on air travel or else through the use of alternative means of transport. He stated that in mainland Europe, the use of trains is a good alternative for air travel, due to its efficiency and minor environmental impact.

“In Malta’s case this can also be used in a limited way. This leads to an increase in the cost of air travel and the number of tourists – both incoming as well as Maltese that travel abroad,” Cacopardo said.

He argued that although concessions had to be made for those that lived on isolated islands, tourism had to carry the weight of its own impacts.

“It is in Malta’s interest that the impact of mass tourism is contained before it is too late. The aviation industry must be encouraged through economic means such as taxation to restructure itself,” Cacopardo said.

He said that sustainable means of transport had to be supported if one really meant to address climate change.

“Let us all remember that like all island states, Malta included, as well as coastal communities, will be the first to suffer some of the worsts repercussions of climate change: the increase in sea level. Climate will not consider our special situation or our economic considerations – nature does not discriminate: it will roll over us as it did elsewhere,” Cacopardo concluded.

During a press conference in Sliema, ADPD Deputy General Secretary Melissa Bagley said that in spite of parliament’s approval of a motion on ‘climate change emergency’, no action had been taken.

She emphasised that the tourism industry required restructuring. “This industry is eating up more and more open spaces with government’s support and impacting negatively our quality of life.”

Bagley mentioned the Gzira seafront lido building “disfigurement” and the attempt to turn a stretch of the Marsaskala coastline into a marina.

“Planning policies have been changed by the government many times to permit the expansion and building of more and more hotels. Subsequent governments have also changed the conditions tied up to land granted for hotels to allow for speculation and the building of residential apartments and offices instead,” Bagley said.

She stated that business operators had taken over popular bays such as that of Comino, and were given a free pass in the name of “the economy”.

“The impact of uncontrolled tourism on infrastructure, transport, water and electricity, and waste is evidenced especially by the state of our tourist locations”, concluded Bagley.

ADPD General Secretary Ralph Cassar said that the tourism industry had been receiving various forms of state aid and public resources for many years.

“This is money paid out of the taxes that we all contribute. We are not just referring here to subsidies but also to administrative decisions, including planning regulations aimed at benefitting the tourism industry at the expense of the residential community. They always want more,” Cassar said.

He said that the three million tourists that visited Malta in 2019, were a “considerable burden” on the country’s infrastructure. Cassar said that through a tourism tax, tourists would be able to contribute towards the impact of their use of the country’s resources.

He argued that the current rate which varies from €0.50 to €5 daily was to be revised upwards, without a maximum limit, to better reflect the impact of tourism on the infrastructure.

“The income from such tax should support public transport, clean modes of travel and security on our roads, together with better waste management. It is not fair that Maltese residents subsidise tourists – this does not make sense,” Cassar said.

He said that certain operators behaved arrogantly and believed that they should be allowed to do as they please. Cassar mentioned Michael Zammit Tabona, a cruises operator to Blue Lagoon in Comino who recently ridiculed the idea of any form of control in the zone.

“Indeed, such an operator should lead by example and should be made to contribute financially to make up for the fact that he is exploiting this natural zone for profit,” concluded Cassar.