Make them pay


November 10th, 2022

Media contacts:

Finlay Asher, UK/EU, +44 798-460-2404 ,

Peter Kalmus, US, +1 646-335-3992 ,


Citizens and scientists unite to take coordinated global direct action during COP27 against the outrageous sky-high pollution of private jet users and frequent flyers

Make Them Pay” is a bold new campaign created by Scientist Rebellion and Extinction Rebellion (XR) to confront the climate injustice of aviation [1]. Citizens and scientists from around the globe have united behind three demands:


It is obscene that Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates can fly their private jets tax free, while global communities starve. It’s only fair that wealthy polluters pay the most into climate loss and damage funds to help the most vulnerable countries adapt.

– Dr. Gianluca Grimalda, social science researcher, and Scientist Rebellion

The campaign highlights that the jet-setting life-styles of multi-millionaires and billionaires are causing massive climate impacts, yet private jet use is massively subsidised and untaxed [2] which is incredibly unfair during a cost-of-living crisis. Multiple national Citizens’ Assemblies have shown that people believe that private jets should be banned, that wealthy polluters should pay for their higher emissions, and there should be an increasing tax applied to those who fly further and more frequently than others [3]. This is known as a frequent flyer levy [4].

The Least Developed Countries (LDC) group representing the most climate-vulnerable countries at COP27, have also proposed a global aviation tax in order to pay for climate finance or loss & damage and adaptation funds in their countries [5]. Studies show that we could easily raise in excess of $100 billion a year this way [6]. Such a tax could also be used to cancel debt in the countries most affected by climate change, so that they can afford to transition to low-carbon economies [7].

The aviation sector represents the pinnacle of climate injustice and emissions inequality. A private jet is 10 times more energy-intensive compared to a commercial airliner, and 50 times more energy-intensive compared to train travel. A four-hour flight in a private jet emits as much as the average person does in an entire year [8]. Furthermore, 1% of the global population produces over a half of total aviation emissions [9], while 80% of the global population have never actually stepped foot onboard an aircraft [10].

This campaign is a call to action. Environmental campaigners must apply pressure to political leaders, particularly within wealthy countries with the most air traffic, to address these inequalities once and for all – and to introduce progressive policies to crack down on excessive flying, and raise the climate finance for so long promised, yet never delivered [11].


I’m an aviation worker – but feel that I can’t stand-by watching the emissions from my industry continue to grow and contribute so heavily to the climate carnage wreaking havoc around the world. These impacts are mostly felt by the poorest communities, so it’s sickening to also realise that an elite minority of super-rich mega polluters are responsible for the majority of global emissions from air travel. It’s only fair that the wealthiest, highest-emitters in society should pay the most for their pollution, in order to raise climate finance to help where it’s needed the most.

– Finlay Asher, aerospace engineer, and co-founder of Safe Landing [12]

The rich are burning down the planet and the damage is irreversible. We must stop them. Banning private jets would be a start.

– Dr Peter Kalmus, climate scientist

[We] deserve to live without the looming fear of debt and destruction. Our islands are bearing the heaviest burden of a crisis we did not cause, and the urgent establishment of a dedicated loss and damage response fund is key to sustainable recovery. We are experiencing climate impacts that become more and more extreme with each passing year.

– Walton Webson, Antigua and Barbuda’s ambassador to the UN and chair of the Alliance of Small Island States [5]

Adaptation needs in the developing world are set to skyrocket to as much as $340 billion a year by 2030. Yet adaptation support today stands at less than one-tenth of that amount. The most vulnerable people and communities are paying the price. This is unacceptable.

– António Guterres, UN Secretary-General, 3rd Nov 2022 [13]

— Ends —


[1] “Make Them Pay” campaign website:


[3] Multiple national Citizens’ Assemblies have produced such recommendations for the aviation sector, including:

  • The UK Climate Assembly recommendations:
    • Ban polluting private jets and helicopters, moving to electric technology as it becomes available
    • 80% of assembly members ‘strongly agreed’ or ‘agreed’ that taxes that increase as people fly more often and as they fly further should be part of how the UK gets to net zero. Assembly members saw these taxes as fairer than alternative policy options.

[4] Explanation of Frequent Flyer Levy policy: