A small number of frequent flyers are taking the majority of flights across the world, a study suggests.
Climate campaign group Possible said 70% of flights were taken by 15% of people in the UK and there was a tendency for regular jetsetters to have higher incomes.
The group called for a Frequent Flyer Levy and said a progressive tax that goes up as someone takes more flights would allow climate change to be tackled in a more equitable way.
The pattern of a large number of flights being taken by the same small proportion of society is also mirrored in other countries, according to the group’s literature view, Elite Status: Global Inequalities in Flying.
In the US, just 12% of people take 66% of flights, while in France, 50% of flights are taken by just 2% of the population, their data suggests.
“This pattern is repeated across the world, in countries including Canada, India, China and the Netherlands – as was the tendency for frequent flyers to have higher incomes,” the group said.
It said this means that “wealthier people are disproportionately responsible for emissions that are already causing harm to people around the world, with impacts falling most heavily on poorer communities”.
The review also revealed that 76% of overseas trips were taken by 29% of middle and high-income households in 17 Asia-Pacific countries, including Australia, China, India and Singapore.
Leo Murray, director of innovation at Possible, said he was “genuinely shocked” by the data.
In a foreword, he wrote: “The implications for climate change policy were clear. The politically sacrosanct annual family holiday was not at fault when it came to rapidly rising aviation emissions.
“Rather, most air travel was down to a small, relatively well off demographic taking ever more frequent leisure flights.
“So targeting climate policy at the elite minority responsible for most of the environmental damage from flights could help tackle the climate problem from flying without taking away access to the most important and valued services which air travel provides to society.”
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