Ban air miles and stop frequent flyers to combat climate change, report urges

Air miles should be banned because they encourage excessive flying, according to a report commissioned by the government’s climate change advisers.

Frequent flyers should be hit by an “escalating air miles levy” to put them off flying too much, rather than encouraged by reward schemes, the report says.

The suggestions are aimed at the 15 per cent of the UK population estimated to be responsible for 70 per cent of flights, many of whom take additional flights to “maintain their privileged traveller status”.

The report by Imperial College London, commissioned by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), also suggests flights should advertise their emissions in a simple way easily understood by customers.

The report, Behaviour Change, Public Engagement and Net Zero, was authored by Dr Richard Carmichael.

It said that “high impact shifts in consumer behaviours” were needed for the UK to reach its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, rather than the “small and easy changes” suggested to UK households in the past.

It added policy changes were required which were “consistent with the scale of the climate challenge, build optimism and commitment, and give weight to new ambitious narratives that inspire wide public participation”.

The report also included wider recommendations on sustainable living, including weekly collections of food waste and changes to diet, particularly eating less meat and switching to largely plant-based diets.

It also suggested mandatory labels on food products to show the environmental impact of producing the item.

Other domestic travel recommendations include slashing prices on intercity rail services to reduce demand for cars and planes, and reopening disused rail lines.

The UK is the world’s first major economy to legally commit to becoming carbon neutral by 2050 after the ambitious target was recommended by the CCC.