Environmentalists have discovered that airlines are making an enormous amount of money, to the tune of half a billion euros, by passing on a carbon surcharge to passengers despite a November EU decision to freeze the carbon tax it originally instated on January 1, 2012.
During an investigation, the environmental group Transport and Environment discovered the airlines have been accumulating extra revenue by charging passengers money to offset the carbon tax, despite the fact there is no such carbon tax due to the EU-imposed temporary freeze.
In fact, by taking part in these questionable business practices, the airline industry has generated extra profits as high as 486 million euros ($650 million US dollars).
The freeze was suggested by EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard in November. She offered to freeze the measure for a year on flights to and from non-European nations in the hopes of negotiating global CO2 emissions standards in the framework of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
The tax has been controversial from the beginning, with 26 of ICAO’s 36 members, including Russia, India, the United States, and China opposing the move, declaring it violates international law.
The EU tax forces airlines operating in the bloc, regardless of their country of origin, to buy 15% of their carbon emissions to help battle climate change.
Unfortunately, the clock cannot be turned back, and Hedegaard stated that in the future all she can do is now ask for greater transparency in tarrifs.