IN A LETTER to the Irish Times editor, Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary exposes "another factually inaccurate opinion piece from one of the small band of eco-loonies." O'Leary explains why it is absurd to lay the blame for climate change on the runway of low-cost aviation. His arguments against the "eco-babble" ring true on many points.
Aviation Generates a Minor Percentage of Emissions. The European Environmental Agency confirms that aviation accounts for less than 2% of Europe's CO2 emissions. O'Leary says, "Shipping accounts for 5%, motor transport 18% and power generation (mainly Government-owned) some 26%.
Aviation is Cleaner Tech. There are compelling reasons on airline balance sheets (depreciation, reduced insurance fees, lower airport noise rates) that encourage companies like Ryanair to switch from older, polluting aircraft to newer, quieter, fuel-efficient aircraft. "Ryanair ... Has reduced its emissions per passenger-kilometre by 50% over the past 10 years." For many on Irish roads in the same 10-year period, throaty exhausts or "safer" SUVs means fuel efficiency was not a player.
Airlines Buy Their Own Infrastructure. O'Leary explains, "Contrary to the myth that airlines are tax exempt or don't pay taxes, we are the only form of mass transport within Europe which pays for all its own infrastreucture (runways, airports, air traffic control, aircraft) at a time whe Europe's ferries, trains, buses and roads continue to be massively subsidised by taxpayers."
It makes sense to fly off the island. There is no way Irish tourism would survive without strong airlinks.
Exploding the Eco-Tax Myth. O'Leary hits this point to great effect. "The biggest lie at the heart of all this eco-babble is that higher taxes will somehow save the planet. This is simply untrue. Higher taxes simply means greater governmental revenue, waste and misspending. " And O'Leary is right. "Higher taxation will not reduce people's propensity to travel."
Parts quoted from Michael O'Leary in the Letters to the Editor section of The Irish Times, 12 July 2008.
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