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Soon We'll All Be Paying the True Price of Air Travel

Britons will take more than half a billion flights annually by 2020, up from 189 million in 2002 and far in excess of recent government forecasts.

Published: 13-Apr-2006

Scarcely audible amid the storm of financial scandal last week was the sound of Labour overshooting its target on greenhouse gas emissions. The Climate Change review, a report on progress towards greener government, evaporated over Westminster like a vapour trail behind a jumbo jet.

In the review, the government admitted it would fail to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 20 per cent by 2010 - a pledge in every manifesto since 1997.

To be fair, Britain has a greener record than most of the EU. The UK is at least on target to meet its commitments under the Kyoto protocol. Gordon Brown's budget and David Cameron's speeches demonstrate that environmental zeal is now considered de rigueur for aspiring Prime Ministers. But neither man has radical policies to match the rhetoric. That is because the sharpest instrument for cutting pollution is a tax on polluters. Since we are all consumers of carbon-emitting energy, that means higher prices all round. No politician eagerly puts that in a manifesto.

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