A ‘carbon charge’ could be added automatically to the price of airline tickets under government plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Measures are reportedly being considered by ministers that would require all carriers to introduce carbon offsetting payments at the point of ticket sale, The Times reported.

Payments would be voluntary but could work on an “opt-out” system. Similar measures could also be applied to trains, buses and ferries.


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A flight between London and New York could increase by almost £30, falling to half that when travelling with the most fuel-efficient airlines. A journey between London and Madrid could rise by an estimated £5.

The plan was outlined as part of proposed reforms to raise public awareness of the carbon emissions released by different modes of transport while increasing payments to offset their impact.

It raises the prospect that transport providers will have to give passengers information about levels of carbon dioxide associated with each journey when tickets are purchased.

The government reportedly said it was hoped that this would “drive consumer choices towards less polluting journey options”. A public “call for evidence” runs until the end of September.

Many airlines run their own schemes but are not always obvious when booking.

Ryanair and Wizz Air have started publishing their monthly CO2 emissions.

The report by the Department for Transport said: “One way to increase uptake could be to follow an opt-out rather than opt-in model, under which the cost of offsetting carbon emissions would be automatically included for consumers.”

Transport secretary Chris Grayling said: “An offsetting scheme could help inform travellers about how much carbon their journey produces and provide the opportunity to fund schemes, like tree planting, to compensate.”

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of trade body Airlines UK, said: “UK airlines are committed to decarbonising aviation and are working with government to [introduce] new greener technologies, including more efficient aircraft and engines, sustainable aviation fuels and vital airspace modernisation.”

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