In an effort to reduce airline emissions, France has formally banned domestic flights on short routes that can be completed by train in less than 2.5 hours.
The Tuesday move largely eliminates air travel between Paris and regional hubs like Nantes, Lyon, and Bordeaux; connecting flights are unaffected.
The French law, according to Max Boycoff, chair of environmental studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder, will serve as a benchmark for governments all around the world.
Even though only 2% of the world’s emissions are caused by aircraft, the symbolic significance of this influence is great. The conversations that this sparks may lead to other opportunities for carbon reductions elsewhere.
In comparison to flights, he pointed out that hydrocarbon emissions from rail travel are around one-third lower.
“Everything counts, how we move from place to place matters, and transport as a whole accounts for anything from 25% to 30% of global emissions. This indicates the effectiveness of climate policy, according to Boycoff.
Despite the fact that the measure was already in use and was part of a 2021 climate law, certain airlines petitioned the European Commission to look into the measure’s legality.
According to the law, train services on the same route must be prompt, frequent, and well-connected to accommodate people who might otherwise fly and to handle an increase in traffic.
Governments should support “real and significant solutions” to airline emissions rather than “symbolic bans,” according to Laurent Donceel, interim president of industry association Airlines for Europe (A4E).
A4E emphasised its own net zero by 2050 plan, which calls for using non-fossil fuels instead of jet fuel and introducing battery- or hydrogen-powered aircraft.
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