Published on Thursday, May 7, 2009

Carbon tax threatens developing world, says eco leader

NADI, Fiji - The carbon tax on British travellers proposed by the UK government is "a major blow to anti-poverty programmes in the developing world", says a development expert.

"At a time when we are encouraging European tourists to boost the economies of developing countries with their tourism resources, the UK government in a single move will deal a body blow to those of us trying to use sustainable tourism to alleviate poverty," said Lelei LeLaulu, president of the Island Nations Climate and Oceans Programme.

"Tourism is the largest voluntary flow of resources from the 'haves' to the 'have-nots' of the world," asserted LeLaulu, "and the UK's Air Passenger Duty is about to choke that flow.

"Tourism plays a crucial role in the creation of employment, which is especially important during the current economic crisis," he added.

"If they wanted to help, the UK should give those levies to the poorer countries who are twisting and turning to feed their people during the global financial crisis," said LeLaulu, who is also a founding director of the World Tourism Forum for Peace and Sustainable Development (

"As it is, we have no idea where these monies will end up. Most likely in Treasury bailouts of UK banks - so why are we in the developing world paying for the excessive greed of Europe's richest?" he queried.

"If they want to help boost the UK economy as well as help to fight poverty in faraway lands, UK Prime Minister Brown should offer cash incentives to British citizens to encourage them to dig into their savings accounts and buy tickets on UK airlines and with UK-owned travel agents.

"By so doing UK travellers will use their savings accounts to help revive the UK economy and those of destination countries, rather than smothering the travel urge with this huge wet blanket of a tax," said LeLaulu.

"Furthermore, in addition to stemming the flow of much needed tourism revenues for the island nations of the Pacific and Asia, the UK tax will adversely affect the attempts by long-haul carriers like Qantas, Virgin and Air New Zealand to cut their emissions through innovative technologies," said LeLaulu, who is also chairman of the Foundation of the Peoples of the South Pacific International.


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