Climate change and cheap flying


Madam, - I was disturbed to read in Thursday's Irish Times yet another factually inaccurate opinion piece from one of the small band of eco-loonies. The idea that the climate is "paying the price" for low-cost flying is as absurd as it is untrue.

In an article littered with false claims and environmental mumbo-jumbo, readers are invited to share the writer's delusion that massive increases in taxation (on air travel) will somehow "save" our planet, as if it needs saving in the first place. Wrong, wrong and wrong again.

Instead of this eco-babble, perhaps your readers would be interested in some actual facts:

1. The European Environmental Agency confirms that aviation accounts for less than 2 per cent of Europe's CO2 emissions. By contrast, shipping accounts for 5 per cent, motor transport 18 per cent and power generation (mainly Government-owned) some 26 per cent.

2. No industry has improved its technology usage or reduced its emissions per customer as much as the airline industry in the past decade. For example Ryanair, by switching from older, polluting aircraft to quieter, fuel-efficient 737-800s, has reduced its emissions per passenger-kilometre by 50 per cent over the past 10 years. With oil now at $140 a barrel, airlines are doing everything they can to reduce oil usage.

3. Contrary to the myth that airlines are tax exempt or don't pay taxes, we are the only form of mass transport within Europe which pays for all its own infrastructure (runways, airports, air traffic control, aircraft, etc) at a time when Europe's ferries, trains, buses and roads continue to be massively subsidised by taxpayers.

4. Ireland is an island, and therefore the only way for our citizens and visitors to access this country is to fly. Contrary to the views of most of these "eco-twits", we can't reasonably walk or cycle or take a kayak to get on and off the island.

5. The biggest lie at the heart of all of this eco-babble is that higher taxes will somehow save the planet. This is simply untrue. Higher taxes simply means greater government revenue, waste and misspending.

The greatest polluters in Europe are the governments, which in most cases own the power generating stations (the biggest man-made polluters of all) and which, like the eco-nuts, preach to ordinary consumers about caring for the environment while doing nothing useful to improve it.

Unlike these eco-clowns, the airline industry is doing everything in its power to reduce its impact on the environment. Many of these eco kill-joys would like to prevent people flying altogether. Imagine the state of Irish tourism if we banned visitors from flying. Higher taxation won't reduce people's propensity to travel. John Gibbons's absurd claim that "the world's poor pay the highest price for runway emissions" is totally and utterly untrue.

Irish citizens and visitors are now going to be penalised by the mindless bureaucrats of Brussels, encouraged by these eco-loonies, whose predictions about global warming are the modern-day equivalent of those doom-mongers in the middle ages who used to run around towns and cities preaching that the end of mankind was nigh! It wasn't, and nor will the world's climate pay a price for low-cost flights.

Perhaps The Irish Times could encourage sensible, fact-based debate, rather than providing a soap-box for the ranting nonsense and false claims and fictional statistics of yet another eco-nut. - Yours, etc,

MICHAEL O'LEARY, Chief Executive, Ryanair, Dublin Airport.