France has passed a bill banning short-haul flights when there is an alternative to rail of 2.5 hours or less, a measure that has, in practice, been in place for some time. However, while France declared the legal ban a world first, the law has been relaxed too much for conservationists.
The ban was part of a deal struck in 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, to bail out Air France, as passengers could no longer fly and those who could could start taking trains. In return for government money, the airline has agreed to ground some short-haul routes to meet environmental goals.
The reason this ban became law only recently is that airlines have asked the European Commission to investigate its legality and the result has been positive.
Surprisingly, there are several reasons why environmentalists are not happy with this ban:
- The ban was originally proposed by the Citizens Convention which proposed banning all flights if there was a 6-hour train ride, which would have allowed more flights to be banned. The conference was convened by Emmanuel Macron after the demonstrations of the yellow vest movement against social inequalities.
- At 2.5 hours, this drop-off point is just under the duration of a train trip to Marseille, one of France’s major cities on the Mediterranean. It follows from this that if the ban on train trips had been for 3 hours, many flights could have been replaced by trains.
- Planes traveling between Marseille and Lyon (just under two hours by train) are exempt from the ban, as are flights between Rennes and Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. The regulations state that train schedules must be frequent enough to allow passengers to spend 8 hours at their destination and make a round trip in one day.
- Flights from abroad are not affected.
- The ban also does not apply to private jets, which environmentalists in France are campaigning for. Many private jet flights are made in the country — the most frequent private jet flight in 2022 was between Paris and Nice, which consumes four times as much carbon per capita as a commercial flight and 800 times more than a train, according to Le Monde.
However, the bill is historic in that it completely excludes the possibility of airlines operating services between several major French cities – Nantes, Lyon and Bordeaux – and Paris, as the bill states that no airline should be allowed to start a new business to fill the void.
Of course, conservationists could campaign to amend the law to cover more roads. As The Times reported, the routes banned by law account for only 3% of emissions from domestic French flights and only 0.3% of commercial flights taking off in mainland France.
The French organization Greenpeace described the bill as insufficient, but nonetheless a small step in the right direction. The organization is now calling on the European Union to strengthen bans in other countries to help solve the climate crisis. The French government plans to add more ways to ban when it is reviewed in three years.
Although the bill does not cover private jets, the French government plans to increase taxes on them from 2024. Amsterdam Schiphol Airport recently announced that private jets would not be welcomed as part of new environmental plans for the region.
Translated article from Forbes US – Author: Alex Ledsom
<< اقرأ أيضًا: انفجار ترقيات الرحلة للسفر الترفيهي >>>