International Air Passenger Adaptation Levy under international law

Briefing paper

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Date produced: 16/07/2013

In 2008, the Maldives, on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries (LDCs), submitted a proposal to the Conference of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for an International Air Passenger Adaptation Levy (IAPAL). The suggested IAPAL is a tax on the purchase of international airfares differentiated by travel class ‐ USD 6 per passenger in economy class, USD 62 per passenger in business or first class. Its proceeds (possibly between USD 8‐10 billion per year) would be invested in climate change adaptation in developing countries. This briefing paper provides a basic analysis of the IAPAL model under public international law. It reviews the consistency of the concept with the existing international legal framework ‐ in particular the UNFCCC, the Convention on International Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention), and the World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) General Agreement on Trade (GATS).