UN climate talks: IATA claims waning support for air tax

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IATA executives believe that a united industry position has helped downplay support for a tax on aviation during the United Nations climate change talks in Copenhagen.

Talks on agreeing long-term global targets to tackle climate change began a week ago and will culminate as world leaders join the debate in the next two days. There have been fears among the aviation industry that, through a tax, airlines might be used to generate revenue to provide climate funds for developing nations.

During an event in Geneva, IATA director for aviation environment Paul Steele - speaking via video link from Copenhagen - said he was positive about discussions so far.

"Here in Copenhagen that topic has been discussed quite significantly by developing nations and the great news is there is a general recognition that a tax for aviation is not the right way to go. We are not at the end of the game yet, but certainly there is growing support for that idea," says Steele.

"All the discussions over the last 10 days have been very encouraging," he adds. "I think people understand aviation needs to be treated as a sector and understand that tax is a blunt instrument. I think we've got a lot of support for that position."

Steele adds that the next few days will see the various heads of state arriving and mounting pressure to reach a political agreement.

"[These talks are] way above the aviation sphere, so you can never rule anything out," he says. "I think having that joint position has had the resonance we wanted with governments and [non-governmental organisations]. I really think we have had the opportunity to state our case."

Earlier this year IATA helped develop a joint industry position featuring a number of targets, including carbon-neutral growth from 2020 and a net 50% reduction in carbon by 2050, compared with 2005.