France bans short-haul flights with train alternatives to cut emissions
In an effort to reduce carbon emissions, France has implemented a ban on domestic short-haul flights where train alternatives are available. The legislation comes into effect two years after it was initially approved by lawmakers, targeting routes where train journeys can be completed in under two-and-a-half hours. This restriction essentially eliminates air travel between Paris and cities such as Nantes, Lyon, and Bordeaux, although connecting flights remain unaffected.
Opponents of the ban argue that it is merely symbolic and will have a minimal impact on CO2 emissions. Laurent Donceel, the interim head of the industry group Airlines for Europe (A4E), suggested that governments should focus on supporting “real and significant solutions” to address the issue. The aviation industry has been heavily impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, with Flightradar24 reporting a nearly 42% decrease in flights in 2020 compared to 2019.
The French government faced pressure to impose even stricter regulations. The Citizens’ Convention on Climate, established by President Emmanuel Macron in 2019 and comprising 150 public members, initially proposed eliminating flights where train journeys of under four hours were available. However, due to objections from certain regions and airline Air France-KLM, the limit was reduced to two-and-a-half hours, reports BBC News.
French consumer group UFC-Que Choisir had advocated for maintaining the four-hour limit, stating that “the plane emits 77 times more CO2 per passenger than the train on these routes, even though the train is cheaper and the time lost is limited to 40 minutes.” The group also urged for measures to ensure that the French national railway, SNCF, does not take advantage of the situation by raising prices or degrading the quality of rail service.
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