After France Bans Short Domestic Flights, It’s Business as Usual

When the French government officially banned short-haul domestic flights this week, it hailed the move as proof that France is at the forefront of ambitious climate change policies. But critics say it amounts to almost nothing.

“We are the first to do it,” President Emmanuel Macron wrote in a celebratory message. On Twitterwhich included a photo that said “promise kept” stamped in green ink.

At first glance, the promise seems to have been fulfilled: any flight between the two cities that can be replaced by a train ride of less than 2.5 hours is prohibited. In a country smaller than Texas and with an extensive high-speed rail network, it seems to rule out a large number of domestic flights.

But appearances can be deceiving.

gave Decree The formalization of the ban, which was published on Tuesday, is riddled with exceptions.

It only applies to cities served by direct train service “several times a day” and enables passengers to spend at least eight hours at their destination.

This does not apply to connecting flights, and is an exception for Paris Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport, one of Europe’s busiest passenger hubs, for flights between Charles de Gaulle and other French cities. Stay standing.

Finally, since a significant amount of the country’s high-speed train traffic passes through Paris, only a limited number of cities outside the capital have direct train service between them that meets the decree’s rules. will

When all is said and done, only three routes are actually cut—those between Paris-Orly Airport and the cities of Nantes, Bordeaux and Lyon.

The exemptions are intended to ensure that train service between two cities is strong enough before flights between the same destinations are outlawed. But for critics, the confusing mess of circumstances has made the measure largely toothless.

“All this fuss, not so much,” said Genevieve LaFerriere, who handles transportation issues. France Nature EnvironmentA federation of environmental advocacy groups.

Ms Laferrère acknowledged that the ban could have an “educational” effect, by further encouraging passengers to look for flight alternatives. But he said the government had missed an opportunity to act more forcefully, adding, “There are so many obstacles that effectiveness has been lost.”

The ban on short domestic flights was part of a broader law to combat climate change. which was approved in 2021. With the goal of reducing France’s greenhouse gas emissions. Mr. Macron’s government recently Unveiled an accelerated roadmap. They will be reduced by 50% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.

The government insists that the ban is an important step in that direction.

“This is a necessary step and a strong symbol in our policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” French Transport Minister Clement Bevan said of the flight ban. Statement on Tuesday which touted the initiative as a “world first”.

Although the ban was only implemented this week, airlines have been following it for years. In 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic, the government forced Air France to cut some routes. In exchange for a financial aid package worth billions of euros; It then banned rivals from rushing to fill the gap.

But formal implementation of the ban was delayed after the airline industry filed complaints with the European Commission. which gave the green light for this law in December.. The ban will apply for at least three years, after which French authorities will analyze its impact before taking any new steps.

Nicolas Paulison, executive director of the French Airports Union, said the air transport industry was satisfied with the limited impact of the ban but worried it could set a precedent for tougher measures.

“Tackling domestic flights does not solve the problem of air transport’s CO2 emissions,” added Mr Paulson.

In 2019, domestic flights accounted for only 4% of the French transportation industry’s CO2 emissions. According to official statistics.

And according to one Analysis According to civil aviation data from Le Monde, the three routes to be cut will have just 5,000 flights a year, less than 3 percent of the total number of annual domestic flights in France. French authorities have. Admitted that cutting these three pathways reduced emissions by about 55,000 tons of CO2 annually.

Laurent Doncel, acting managing director of Airlines for Europe, an industry lobbying group for Europe’s largest flagship and low-cost airlines, said on Wednesday that countries need to switch to sustainable aviation fuels and electric and hydrogen-powered ones. Focus should be on “solid” targets such as aircraft. . He said that airlines have committed to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“Instead of pursuing tokenistic sanctions, governments need to focus their efforts on advancing these real, meaningful solutions,” Mr. Doncel said in a statement.

But France Nature Environment’s Ms Laferrière said the government also needed to make rail transport more attractive, by helping the national railway company lower ticket prices and investing more in railway infrastructure. .

Moreover, he said, if the ban on short-haul flights only encourages French airports to reallocate more take-off slots to long-haul flights, “we will not save a lot of CO2. “

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *