Cutting air passenger duty to encourage international flights to and from Scotland is likely to lead to a rise in damaging CO2 emissions, Scotland's climate change minister admitted today to Patrick Harvie MSP.
Eighteen months ago the Scottish First Minister told Mr Harvie that the Scottish Government would put forward an environmental impact of its policy of scrapping the duty but until today no figure has been presented.
During a Topical Question at Holyrood on the latest UN report on climate change, on 1 April 2014, Mr Harvie was told by minister Paul Wheelhouse that an internal figure he has seen suggests cutting duty would cause emissions to rise.
The minister also conceded that if emissions from international aviation cause Scotland's carbon footprint to grow, other sectors of the economy will have to provide deeper emissions cuts to compensate.
Patrick Harvie, Green MSP for Glasgow and transport spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, said: "The Scottish Government should be stepping up to take responsibility for the failure to meet the first two annual climate targets but instead it is displaying astonishing recklessness.
"After eighteen months we finally get an admission that cutting taxes for the wealthy aviation industry is not a good idea if we're serious about reducing our climate change impacts.
"Airlines don’t pay a penny of tax on fuel and they are failing to pay for the pollution they create. Making life easier for big business is not a reason to vote Yes; designing a tax system that makes highly profitable businesses pay for their pollution is,” he said.