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People who fly the most should be taxed more, climate assembly concludes

Written by on 10 September 2020

The public should be encouraged to examine their lifestyles, their homes and how they travel, according to participants in the UK’s first citizens’ assembly on climate change.

The findings are not legally binding but those who took part believe the government and employers should help people make the changes needed as Britain travels on its path towards producing net zero emissions by 2050.

Their views are intended to provide a snapshot of public opinion to guide government policy.

The majority of participants thought those who fly the most should be taxed more, with some 80% saying they agreed or strongly agreed.

Assembly members would like to see the airline industry invest in greenhouse gas removals, with 75% agreeing or strongly agreeing.

Only 12% thought a carbon tax on all flights was the best option to target air travel emissions.

Although the coronavirus pandemic has shifted attention away from climate change, the majority of participants (93%) thought more steps should be taken to help the country reach net zero as lockdown eases.

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Some 79% thought steps taken to help the economy recover after the lockdown should also be designed with the environment in mind.

There was also support for bringing forward the date when diesel and petrol cars will be banned.

Assembly members supported encouraging a reduction in consumption of meat and dairy by between 20% and 40%, stressing the significance of education and saying these changes should be voluntary rather than compulsory.

Some 94% want labels on food and drink products to show the amount of emissions that come from the production of different foods, while 74% also backed “advertising bans and restrictions” on high emissions products or sectors.

The assembly involved more than 100 members of the public from around the country who were brought together at the end of January in Birmingham for the UK’s first ever citizens’ assembly on climate change.

They met over several weekends but the event turned virtual because of coronavirus.

Andrew Higham

‘Opportunity to press a reset button’ for UK

Spending time examining how climate change can be tackled has clearly influenced those who took part.

One of the participants, Ibrahim Wali, said climate change, and what he could do to help tackle it, had always been on his mind and he was delighted when was randomly sent out a letter asking him to participate.

The GP, from Surrey, said “urgency” is needed to tackle climate change, although it has been “pushed to the side” during the coronavirus crisis.

Ibrahim Wali says climate change has been 'pushed to the side'
Image:
Ibrahim Wali says climate change has been ‘pushed to the side’

Mr Wali was born in Nigeria, where he said he has witnessed the impact of climate change first hand.

“Climate change is the one big crisis that we have to face. It needs to get back to the top of the agenda. The planet is our biggest patient,” he said.

Sarah Allan, from the group Involve which is running the assembly, said the government has now been asked to respond to the findings.

“This level of detailed picture to get to net zero is nowhere else,” she said. “The assembly will have a considerable impact because of the unique and invaluable nature of its recommendations.”

climate after covid

Coronavirus is the greatest global challenge many of us will experience in our lifetimes. But before the pandemic hit, it was climate change that loomed over us as the planet’s biggest problem.

So what happens now? How do we deal with both of them at the same time?

Watch our special live show – Climate After Covid: A Green Recovery? – from 8-9pm on Sky News, and from 8-9.30pm on the Sky News website and app this Thursday as we look for the answers.