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The impact of the UK aviation tax on carbon dioxide emissions and visitor numbers

  • Mayor, Karen
  • Tol, Richard S.J.

We use a model of domestic and international tourist numbers and flows to estimate the impact of the recent and proposed changes in the Air Passenger Duty (APD) of the United Kingdom. We look at four different scenarios (abolishing the APD, keeping the 2001 APD level, the 2007 APD and the Conservative Party's "Green Miles" proposal) using base, high and very high elasticity levels as well as assumptions about the substitutability between domestic and international holidays and the effects of a carbon tax. We find that the recent doubling of the APD has the perverse effect of increasing carbon dioxide emissions, albeit only slightly, because it reduces the relative price difference between near and far holidays. Tourists arriving into the UK would fall slightly. The number of tourists travelling from the UK would fall in the countries near to the UK, and this drop would be only partly offset by displaced tourists from the UK. Tourists leaving the UK for countries further a field would increase. The proposal of the Conservative Party to exempt the first 2000Â miles (for UK residents) would decrease emissions by roughly the same amount as abolishing the APD altogether--but the number of tourists arriving into the UK would not rise. These results are reversed if we assume that domestic holidays and foreign holidays are close substitutes. If the same revenue were raised with a carbon tax rather than a boarding tax, emissions would fall rather than rise.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Transport Policy.

Volume (Year): 14 (2007)
Issue (Month): 6 (November)
Pages: 507-513

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Handle: RePEc:eee:trapol:v:14:y:2007:i:6:p:507-513
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  1. Richard S.J. Tol, 2006. "The Impact of a Carbon Tax on International Tourism," Papers WP177, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
  2. Weitzman, Martin L, 1974. "Prices vs. Quantities," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(4), pages 477-91, October.
  3. Tae H. Oum & Waters, W.G. & Jong Say Yong, 1990. "A survey of recent estimates of price elasticities of demand for transport," Policy Research Working Paper Series 359, The World Bank.
  4. Tol, Richard S. J., 2005. "The marginal damage costs of carbon dioxide emissions: an assessment of the uncertainties," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(16), pages 2064-2074, November.
  5. Wohlgemuth, Norbert, 1997. "World transport energy demand modelling : Methodology and elasticities," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 25(14-15), pages 1109-1119, December.
  6. Jacqueline M. Hamilton & David J. Maddison & Richard S.J. Tol, 2004. "The Effects Of Climate Change On International Tourism," Working Papers FNU-36, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised Jan 2004.
  7. Andrea Bigano & Jacqueline M. Hamilton & Richard S.J. Tol, 2005. "The Impact Of Climate Change On Domestic And International Tourism: A Simulation Study," Working Papers FNU-58, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised Jan 2005.
  8. Bows, Alice & Anderson, Kevin L., 2007. "Policy clash: Can projected aviation growth be reconciled with the UK Government's 60% carbon-reduction target?," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 103-110, March.
  9. Pearce, David, 2006. "The political economy of an energy tax: The United Kingdom's Climate Change Levy," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 149-158, March.
  10. Witt, Stephen F. & Witt, Christine A., 1995. "Forecasting tourism demand: A review of empirical research," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 447-475, September.
  11. Pizer, William A., 1999. "The optimal choice of climate change policy in the presence of uncertainty," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(3-4), pages 255-287, August.
  12. Jacqueline M. Hamilton & David J. Maddison & Richard S.J. Tol, 2003. "Climate Change And International Tourism: A Simulation Study," Working Papers FNU-31, Research unit Sustainability and Global Change, Hamburg University, revised Sep 2003.
  13. Dieter Helm, 2005. "Economic Instruments and Environmental Policy," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 36(3), pages 205-228.
  14. Brons, Martijn & Pels, Eric & Nijkamp, Peter & Rietveld, Piet, 2002. "Price elasticities of demand for passenger air travel: a meta-analysis," Journal of Air Transport Management, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 165-175.
  15. Richard S. J. Tol & Gary W. Yohe, 2006. "A Review of the Stern Review," World Economics, World Economics, Economic & Financial Publishing, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 7(4), pages 233-250, October.
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