Greenpeace urges Austria's high court to repeal air traffic tax breaks

by Reuters
Thursday, 20 February 2020 13:27 GMT

VIENNA, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Greenpeace asked Austria's constitutional court on Thursday to repeal two laws that offer tax credits for air traffic but not for rail transportation, raising pressure on the government to step up action on climate change.

An Austrian tax exemption on kerosene fuel for domestic flights and a VAT exemption on international flights result in increased CO2 emissions that contribute to global warming, Greenpeace argues.

By extension, Greenpeace claims the tax breaks threaten people's right to life and liberty according to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

"The climate crisis is also a crisis of fundamental and human rights," said attorney Michaela Kroemer, who helped file the request. "We want to use the request to ensure that the basic rights of the Austrian citizens are adequately protected by the state, also with regard to the climate crisis."

Environmentalists in many European countries are pushing forward with legal cases aimed at forcing their governments to take action to reach their targets from the 2015 Paris Climate Accord.

They are encouraged by a landmark decision in the Netherlands, where the Dutch High Court ordered the government two months ago to cut greenhouse gas emissions faster than planned.

The case brought by environmental group Urgenda Foundation, on behalf of nearly 900 Dutch citizens.

The Austrian Greenpeace request was made on behalf of more than 8,000 Austrian citizens. (Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Christina Fincher)

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