A “CARBON tax” could be imposed on private jets in an effort to help fund the Island’s £300 million plans to achieve carbon-neutrality.
The Council of Ministers has submitted an amendment to the Government Plan – due to be debated next month – citing a recent study that private aircraft can be up to 14 times more polluting than commercial jets.
The amendment calls for “the introduction of an appropriate carbon tax or charge relating to the operation of private aircraft” to be explored, saying it is the “right thing to do”.
A report accompanying the amendment notes that, as part of the financial strategy backing the Carbon Neutral Road-map – which outlines the Island’s strategy for reaching net-zero carbon emissions – £300m will be needed over the next 30 years.
It explains that this will include adopting a “polluter pays” principle when developing new taxes or charges, citing a 2021 study by the Transport and Environment campaign group – which found that private jets were five to 14 times more polluting per passenger than commercial planes.
This is partially because private jets are – according to the same study – twice as likely to be used for very short trips within Europe, where the smaller distances mean they operate less efficiently.
“As part of the policy work which will be undertaken in 2024 to identify new revenue-generating polluter-pays measures, we will investigate the introduction of an appropriate carbon tax or charge related to the operation of private aircraft,” the report states.
“This exploratory work will consider the optimal approach to establishing a proportionate tax or charge which balances the significant environmental impact of private aircraft travel, with the important role private aviation plays in servicing the Island as a hub for business and leisure,” it added.
The amendment comes months after business jet operator and handling agent Gama Aviation applied to Planning to construct a hangar and “fixed-base operation” on the site of the now-demolished cargo centre at the Airport.
In its report, the government argues that, while the majority of the Island’s aviation operations relate to scheduled passenger and freight flights, Jersey’s “business aviation” sector and the operation of private jets “make a disproportionate contribution to our emissions”.
It adds: “As an Island which has declared a Climate Emergency and committed to reach net zero by 2050, applying a polluter-pays principle to one of the most carbon intensive forms of transportation, is the right thing to do.
“In commencing this work, a precise definition of ‘private aircraft’ will need to be developed in consultation with the sector. There will naturally be a need to establish appropriate exclusions to ensure that vital operations such as the air ambulance are not impacted. The intention would be to exclude members of Jersey Aero Club and users of sustainable aviation fuel from any tax or charge introduced.”
Following questions from the JEP, the government said there was currently no estimate as to how much such a charge could generate.