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Rishi Sunak Defends Cutting UK Flight Duty Despite Backlash From Green Groups

Rishi Sunak Defends Cutting UK Flight Duty Despite Backlash From Green Groups
2 min read

Rishi Sunak has defended his decision to cut air passenger duty just days before the COP26 climate summit, claiming that there are "lots of different ways" to tackle climate change.

It comes after the Chancellor announced on Wednesday that, from 2023, air duty will be cut from £13 to £6.50 for internal flights, which the Treasury estimates will make travel cheaper for around nine million passengers. 

The move has attracted criticism from environmental campaigners who believe the government should be incentivising low emissions transport such as rail travel rather than encouraging short-haul flights. 

"We do worry about emissions and that's why last week we outlined a comprehensive Net Zero strategy", Sunak told Sky News.

"It has widely been considered one of the most comprehensive plans of any government anywhere in the world."

He continued: "If you look at the impact on carbon [emissions], the overall view from the independent forecasts yesterday was, taken in totality, the measures that we are taking put us further along the path to Net Zero and reduce climate emissions."

Sunak argued that aviation emissions only account for 8% of the UK's emissions, only half of which came from domestic flights.

He also defended the decision to visit a meat market at a time many are being encouraged to eat less meat to help the environment.

"There's lots of different ways that we can tackle climate change," Sunak said.

"Last week, the Prime Minister outlined the Net Zero strategy. I don't think there was anything about [eating meat] in there.

"But what there was was the green Industrial Revolution, as he would describe it, with investment to catalyse the industries of the future to help us make the transition and in the process, create lots of jobs."

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves called Sunak's decision to cut Air Passenger Duty "astonishing", particularly so close to the COP26 climate summit. 

"This is about choices," Reeves said.

"It's also about cutting down on wasteful government spending. £37 billion on test and trace, which Public Accounts Committee says treats taxpayers like a cash machine.

"So there are different choices that the chancellor could have made."

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