Passengers flying from Birmingham International Airport may soon be able to do their bit for the environment by volunteering to pay a climate change surcharge.

Discussions are under way about introducing a carbon offset tax, which would raise money to fund the promotion of sustainable lifestyles among low-income households in Birmingham and the West Midlands.

The idea is contained in a planning document drawn up by the Birmingham Strategic Partnership - a body representing the city council, public agencies, businesses and the voluntary sector.

BSP members view the levy as one way of neutralising the impact of additional carbon dioxide emissions from the proposed extension of the main runway at BIA and construction of a second runway.

No figure has been set for the new charge, although #5 per ticket for flights in Europe is being canvassed.

Payment would be voluntary and the levy could not be introduced without the agreement of individual airlines.

A draft version of the BSP Climate Change Strategy, issued for consultation among stakeholder groups, offers passengers the opportunity to "make choices" with regard to emissions and the carbon footprint created by BIA.

The document adds: "The BSP will work in part-nership with BIA to explore the potential to develop a voluntary opt out carbon offset charge on all flights out of Birmingham.

"The funds raised may be used to reduce carbon emissions from low income domestic properties by investing in renewables."

The BSP has set a target of reducing carbon dioxide emissions in Birmingham by 60 per cent by 2050.

The strategy document warns of a grim future if global warming goes unchallenged:

Average summer temperatures in the West Midlands will increase by three degrees Celsius by 2050.

Rainfall could fall by up to 30 per cent in summer and increase by 20 per cent in winter.

Extreme weather events, including winter storms and summer droughts, will become commonplace.

Paul Tilsley, BSP chairman and deputy leader of Birmingham City Council, said some airlines already offer customers the opportunity to pay a carbon offset charge.

Coun Tilsley (Lib Dem Sheldon) recently bought a Ryanair ticket to Alicante and opted to pay a #6 levy.

"Things are moving very quickly as far as sustainability in Birmingham is concerned.

"I would certainly like to see all people who use BIA given the chance to pay a carbon offset charge," he added.

The levy is also backed by Steve Bedser, chairman of Birmingham City Council's sustainability and climate change scrutiny committee.

Coun Bedser (Lab Long-bridge) believes there is a strong economic case for extending the BIA runway, enabling non-stop flights to China, Japan and India to go ahead.

However, he is calling for action to reduce the number of short-haul flights to UK and northern European destinations.

Richard Heard, BIA managing director, said: "BIA takes climate change very seriously and works in conjunction with the airlines on schemes to manage and improve climate change.

"We are currently investigating a number of industry and stand alone voluntary carbon off-set schemes and plan to bring forward our proposals in the new year.

"Research in finding a solution to this growing issue is paramount and any additional voluntary passenger levy could also be used in order to aid research."