At just 16 years old, Greta Thunberg has started an international youth movement against climate change.
The Swedish teenager first staged a “School Strike for Climate” in front of the Swedish Parliament in August last year.
She continued to gain international attention after speaking at the U.N. Climate Talks in Poland last December.
Her strike has inspired students from around the world, leading tens of thousands of students from Germany, Japan, the UK, Australia and many more to join her #FridaysforFuture demonstrations.
The walkouts were seen as a chance to build towards a global day of school strikes on 15 March.
The French government has announced its willingness to impose an eco-tax, a so-called “Greta Tax” of up to €18 on plane tickets for all flights from airports in France to fund less-polluting transportation projects,
The new French tax will be 1.5 euros for flights within France or the European Union, 3 euros for economy flights out of the EU, 9 euros for intra-EU business class and up to 18 euros for business class tickets out of the EU. Transit flights will not be taxed.
“We have decided to put in place an eco-tax on all flights from France,” Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne told a news conference, adding proceeds would be used to finance daily transport in France, notably local trains.
The French government also said that from 2020 it expected to raise 140 million euros from reducing tax benefits on diesel for trucks.
The eco-tax will be used to generate revenue for the French government that will be spent on other forms of transport like trains, the transport ministry said. France’s tax change follows Sweden, which introduced a more punitive €40 carbon tax in April 2018 – and is part of an increasing awareness of the environmental damage of flights on our planet.
The French government said last month that it wanted the new European Commission to push for an end to global tax exemptions for jet fuel to reduce CO2 emissions. It has also linked up with the Netherlands to try to convince fellow European nations to tax airline travel more.
We are not sure that such a low charge will shift the method of transport for the majority of travellers – what’s called the price elasticity of demand, or the proportion of the total cost of a product or service that will make people change behaviours. Doubling the price of petrol today, for instance, isn’t likely to make a difference in the number of people on the roads tomorrow. They have to all get to work. But in the longer term, such a large increase would likely encourage people to buy different, more efficient cars.
Air France has already said the eco-tax would cost them an extra €60m a year. In the short term they’ll have to grin and bear it, but in the long term they’ll have to look at their attractiveness. They might buy more efficient planes. They’re much more price sensitive than passengers are. Passengers will still go on their holidays. That probably needs a bigger price signal.
Greta Thunberg’s “Skolstrejk för klimatet” campaign has raised awareness of the carbon emissions involved in international travel. (Thunberg has recently travelled from her home in Sweden to London by train rather than take a flight.) France’s eco-tax is an attempt to tackle international air travel’s carbon emissions – but will a €1.50 charge really change people’s behaviour?