Speech staatssecretaris Snel tijdens Conference on Carbon Pricing and Aviation Taxes


Staatssecretaris Snel (Financiën) sprak op donderdag 20 juni 2019 tijdens de Conference on Carbon Pricing and Aviation Taxes in Madurodam, Den Haag. De toespraak is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar. Het gesproken woord geldt

Verantwoordelijke Ministerie van Financiën
Thema Klimaatverandering
Documentsoort Toespraak
Publicatiedatum 20-06-2019
Documentdatum 20-06-2019

Ladies and gentlemen,

Flying.  It connects the world. It connects us. It connects you and me today. I bet many of you couldn’t or wouldn’t have come to this conference if taking a plane wasn’t an option.

In recent decades, flying has evolved into one of our main modes of transport. Getting on a plane is almost as easy as getting into our car or on our bike, or hopping on a train. Flying takes us all around the world, and there’s beauty in that.

But there’s a contradiction arising. Because on almost every other means of transport ‒ or on the fuel that powers it ‒ we levy excise duties or fuel taxes. And that directly influences how often people use their car or bike or take the train. And the number of movements made. We tax all these things.

But not … flying. This short video shows the number of flight movements being made. It’s grown enormously in past decades. And could potentially have a disastrous impact on our environment.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The photo behind me is called Earthrise. It was taken on Christmas Eve 1968 by the astronaut Bill Anders. He and his fellow crew members on Apollo 8 were the first people to circle the moon. This was their view.

The picture had a huge impact on the world when it was published. For the first time, people could see planet Earth from a distance.

I wanted to show you all this photo because it shows how vulnerable our planet is. And it should remind us of the gravity of the situation we’re in. Travelling by plane allows us to cross as many borders as we like. The world is at our feet.

But so are the problems caused by flying. They don’t stop at the border of my country, or yours. 1 of the things we can do is work together on creating a European aviation tax and carbon-pricing system.

There’s a lot we can and will do for climate preservation. Some might think introducing an aviation tax won’t make a big difference. But if we do it together, it really can. So I’m very happy to see you all here.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It’s an honour to welcome you to this conference and to The Hague. And to our very first international conference on carbon pricing and aviation tax.

Our aim is to create a European aviation tax and carbon-pricing system. And because you’re here today, I’m sure you share the same goal.

To get things started we not only organised this conference, but also wrote a paper. You’ve all received a copy. In it, we explore the different options for implementing taxes on tickets and fuel.

It’s commonly said that ICAO’s Chicago Convention prohibits the taxation of kerosene. But we’ve studied this, and we think a tax on kerosene is possible.

It’s true that the convention doesn’t allow the taxing of fuel that’s already on board an arriving aircraft. But the restriction does not apply to fuel taken on board before departure.

That’s good news for all of us.

Imposing a fuel tax would be a strong incentive for carriers to develop cleaner fuels. Besides that – and perhaps more importantly ‒ it’s only fair. Right now, car owners pay more tax on petrol driving from The Hague to Schiphol Airport – only 45 kilometres – than a carrier pays on kerosene flying from Amsterdam to Sydney. That’s pretty weird isn’t it?

Parallel with this conference, European leaders are debating climate measures within the European Council. I’m convinced that carbon pricing and aviation tax should play a key role in any joint, future plan for reducing carbon emissions.

Besides what’s happening at European level, we’ll be imposing our own aviation tax here in the Netherlands. But of course, it’s always better to tackle global problems together than to try and fix things on your own. An EU-wide approach will make carbon pricing and aviation taxes more effective. It will prevent cross-border effects and create a level playing field; where we share all the benefits equally. What’s more, it makes sense to tax things that are undesirable – in this case air pollution. It will help us to lighten the tax burden on the things we do want, like more jobs and people starting up new and innovative companies.

We want to shift the tax burden. And we think that imposing a European aviation tax and putting a price on emitting carbons is the way to do it.

We also have an idea of how to get this done. In our view, the duty on heavy goods vehicles gives us a suitable blueprint. A coordinating committee organises regular meetings between countries.

At least once a year all participating countries get together and exchange ideas, views and experiences. It’s informal and accessible. And the chairmanship changes regularly.

We feel that this method has proven itself and can easily be used as a template for aviation taxes. So the Netherlands has a preferred option, but this is by no means set in stone. As far as we’re concerned, everything is up for debate.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It’s good to be here to discuss these matters together and to strive for a common goal. I want us to start a conversation on aviation tax and carbon pricing. On how to calculate the true cost of air travel and transport. Because if we want to keep travelling this world by plane, if we want to keep the world at our feet, we must all shoulder our responsibility and face up to the consequences.

The earth can do perfectly well without us, but we can’t do without the earth. It’s that simple.

If we want to keep living life, if we want to keep moving forward, we need to change things. But let’s make sure that if our grandchildren circle the moon many years from now, this won’t have changed.


Today we really can make a difference together.

I look forward to your ideas and proposals and wish you all an inspiring conference.

Thank you.