The majority of flights are being taken by a small group of frequent flyers in countries which produce the most aviation emissions, a study has suggested.
Climate campaign group Possible said 70% of flights were taken by 15% of people in the UK, and there was a tendency for frequent flyers to have higher incomes.
In calling for a Frequent Flyer Levy, the group said a progressive tax which goes up as someone takes more flights would allow climate change to be tackled in a more equitable way.
Their literature review, Elite Status: Global Inequalities in Flying, says the pattern of a large proportion of flights being taken by a small proportion of society is mirrored in other countries.
Targeting climate policy at the elite minority responsible for most of the environmental damage from flights could help tackle the climate problem from flyingLeo Murray, director of innovation
In the US, 12% of adults take two-thirds of flights, while 22% of the Canadian population take 73% of flights and 8% of adults in the Netherlands account for 42% of all journeys.
Meanwhile, for 17 Asia-Pacific countries – including Australia, China, India and Singapore – 76% of overseas trips were taken by 29% of middle and high income households, the review said.
Leo Murray, director of innovation at Possible, said he was “genuinely shocked” by the data.
In a foreword, he wrote: “The implications for climate change policy were clear. The politically sacrosanct annual family holiday was not at fault when it came to rapidly rising aviation emissions.
“Rather, most air travel was down to a small, relatively well off demographic taking ever more frequent leisure flights.
“So targeting climate policy at the elite minority responsible for most of the environmental damage from flights could help tackle the climate problem from flying without taking away access to the most important and valued services which air travel provides to society.”