You can’t make this stuff up!
– Billionaires to be given free carbon allowances to offset green tax on private jets (Telegraph, Oct. 11, 2011):
Corporate jets used by billionaires the Duke of Westminster and Lord Ashcroft are among the aircraft to be allocated free “carbon allowances” to offset the cost of a new green tax.
Almost 200 corporate jet owners, from oil company ExxonMobil to Starbucks and Iceland Foods, will be awarded free permits to compensate them for the new expense of Europe’s carbon trading scheme for aircraft.
The emissions trading scheme means airlines will have to surrender a permit for every tonne of carbon dioxide they emit, which is expected to raise the cost of flying for millions of passengers.
Bigger airlines, such as easyJet and British Airways, have long been preparing for huge bills from the emissions trading scheme.
They will get a large number of free allowances in the first few years of the scheme to protect their businesses from becoming uneconomic.
However, corporate jet owners will also be able to take advantage of these free allowances, potentially selling them on for cash if they don’t use their aircraft as much as in previous years.
Dozens of corporate jet owners will get free permits, including Iceland Foods, JP Morgan Chase, Procter and Gamble, Hertz Corporation, McDonalds, IBM and Coca-Cola.
Flying Lion Ltd, a company used by Lord Ashcroft, which has flown Conservative politicians around the world, will initially get 24 allowances per year worth €240 (£207) at today’s prices.
However, the value of each permit is variable and is expected to rise significantly after the scheme comes into force in 2012.
The list of approved operators also shows that the Duke of Westminster, one of Britain’s richest men, is getting 28 allowances in the first year, worth €280 at today’s prices.
A spokesman for the Duke of Westminster said: “We are aware of the forthcoming legislation and that it includes private planes such as the one owned by the Duke of Westminster.
“We are considering how best to handle participation in carbon trading but are not yet in a position to give any detail.”
Alan Kilkenny, spokesman for Lord Ashcroft, said: “Although he flies in planes owned by Flying Lion on a regular basis his relationship with Flying Lion is at a distance. He would be unaware of this.”
The Department for Energy and Climate Change said operators of aircraft had to submit flying data this spring to qualify for relief of up to 85pc of their total bill through free allowances in the first year.
The emissions trading scheme has severely angered foreign airlines, leading British Airways boss Willie Walsh to warn that Europe risks angering US and Chinese companies.
American airlines have been trying to argue that they should be exempt from the scheme, according to international law.
However, last week, the European Union’s advocate-general, Juliane Kokott, issued an opinion that including foreign airlines in the scheme is legal.
It is likely that airlines will pass on the cost of the scheme to their customers, who are already facing an increase in Air Passenger Duty.
Meanwhile, politicians were accused of being “schizophrenic” and “inconsistent” about green policies for business in two separate attacks.
Neil Bentley, the CBI’s deputy director-general, said companies were committed to tackling climate change, “but investors are struggling to understand how to invest against the proposed framework while the resulting costs could damage parts of our manufacturing sector”.
On Monday, a report from the Environmental Audit Committee blamed the Government for moving goalposts by reviewing the UK’s green targets. It said the “Government’s somewhat schizophrenic attitude to climate change seems to be undermining confidence”.