Airplanes all over the world are currently grounded, which has temporarily reduced global carbon emissions. But when the world slowly goes back to normal, what can we do with respect to aviation so we don’t end up with the same emission levels once again?

A new scientific article in the journal Climate Policy explores what Swedes think about different national policy measures that can reduce flying. For example, given the choice between aviation taxes, biofuel requirements, and subsidies for other more climate-friendly transport alternatives, which do Swedes prefer?

“Never been done before”
– This has never been done before. Acceptance of aviation policy measures is an unexplored area, says Jörgen Larsson, environmental scientist at Chalmers university, who has written the article together with Chalmers colleague Jonas Nässén and Luleå tekniska universitet professor of political science Simon Matti.

It turns out that taxes aren’t that popular. Neither are more radical policy measures that limit individual flying through personal carbon allowances. Rather, the most popular measures were found to be biofuel blending mandates, subsidies for night trains and labeling of climate impacts – in other words, policy measures that don’t affect individuals’ traveling too directly.

– But it’s tricky to compare different policy measures, says Jörgen Larsson. “They are not really comparable in terms of how much climate benefit they could provide. This is in part because the ones that are the most beneficial, such as aviation taxes, are also the least popular.”

Fair and effective
Previous research has shown how important it is that policy measures don’t limit individual freedom. This study, however, did not find this to be an important factor. Instead, what seems to determine whether a person likes a policy measure or not is whether it’s seen as fair and effective.

– If we’re going to use policy measures, they should be fair, make a difference and reduce the impact on the environment and the climate,” says Jörgen Larsson.

Link to the article:
Read the whole article in the journal Climate Policy here.

Jörgen Larsson
Assistant professor Department of Space Earth and Environment Physical Resource Theory.

Jonatan Järbel
Head of communication Mistra Sustainable Consumption
+46 8 790 68 48