France Continues Debate on Business Aviation's Environmental Impact

 - October 25, 2022, 10:56 AM
Environmental groups in France are calling for higher fuel taxes and per-flight fees on business jets to discourage their use and thus lessen emissions. (Photo: Chad Trautvetter/AIN)

Officials in France continue to debate adding more regulations and taxes on the country’s business aviation sector in an effort to minimize its environmental impact. French finance minister Bruno Le Maire said he wants to “go even further” by requiring jets to fly with biofuels.

According to Jo Dardenne, the aviation director at clean transport campaign group Transport and Environment, members of parliament will discuss aligning jet-A taxation with other fuels this week. Transport and Environment and other allied environmental groups claim the French government could generate at least €660 million in revenue by 2030 via higher fuel taxes and new per-flight fees on business aircraft.

"To address the disproportionate climate impact of private jets, we propose a tax on flights and fuel,” said Dardenne. “The fuel tax would be the one proposed by the European Union under the EU Energy Tax Directive. Inspired by the ticket tax proposed by the French citizens’ Climate Convention, the flight tax would be staggered according to the distance flown.”

This revenue could then be used to fund the decarbonization of aviation, she added. According to analysts, the government should prioritize funding sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) such as synthetic kerosene and zero-emission aircraft for commercial aviation. 

At a minimum, the environmental groups believe the French government should require business jets to use only SAF after 2030. But they are also calling for the mandatory use of carbon-neutral business aircraft on short-haul routes after 2030.

Marc Cottignies, an engineer at the French Agency for Ecological Transition, said there is a need to gather data and adopt the proper methodology before imposing more burdens on business aviation in France.

“We could demonstrate that avoiding an increase in traffic would be welcomed for the cumulative emissions from now to 2030. This does not mean directly that restrictions are necessary,” he said. “Indeed, we could expect from users and the market that, first, they monitor their climate impact annually or even monthly: they have to know what are their current GHG emissions per year and follow them month-to-month at least.

“And then, they should adopt ambitious objectives of reduction to show that they stand in solidarity with decarbonization efforts of the other sectors.”