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Germany Considers Environmental Tax on Air Travel

In a bid to encourage more environmentally friendly travel and bolster its coffers, Germany will reportedly begin charging airline passengers up to 26 euros ($33) for flights taking off in the country.

The travel industry is howling in protest at a report today from the Associated Press, which obtained a draft bill that calls for a 13 euro surcharge for flights up to 1,553 miles, and 26 euros for longer flights.

The tax, called an "incentive for environmentally friendly behavior," could generate 1 billion euros annually beginning in 2011.

"The air traffic tax means exporting German jobs and weakening Germany as a place to do business," Deutsche Lufthansa AG Spokesman Peter Schneckenleitner told the AP.

It isn't the first time European governments have sought to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by targeting travel behavior. Travel-related emissions were cited as one reason why the U.K. government scrapped plans to build a third runway at busy Heathrow airport. There will also be no additional runways built at alternatives Stansted and Gatwick airports.

"Air transport and airport infrastructure are vital for the UK's international connectivity and prosperity," Simon Godfrey-Arnold, an aviation expert with the lobby group Institute of Civil Engineers, told Reuters. "As a trading island nation and popular tourist destination we depend on our ability to connect with the rest of the world."

The U.K. has a goal of reducing its carbon footprint 34 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. The European Union's collective 2020 goal calls for members to reduce total emissions by 20 percent below 1990 levels, with the possibility of raising this to 30 percent if other countries adopt more stringent targets.

The Wall Street Journal reported a concerted push by the U.K., France and Germany to increase the 2020 target to 30 percent in order to spark more low carbon investment.

Image CC licensed by Flickr user BriYYZ.

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