To reduce carbon emissions, France has banned short-haul flights

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Climate campaigners have suggested abandoning flights in places where trains could be used in under four hours. Image source: EPA/ GETTY IMAGES

In an effort to reduce carbon emissions, France has banned domestic short-haul flights where train options exist.

The rule was passed two years after lawmakers decided to end service on routes that could be readily traveled by train in just over two hours.

While connecting flights are unaffected, this legislation effectively ends air connectivity between Paris and places like Nantes, Lyon, and Bordeaux.

These latest actions have been criticized as “symbolic prohibitions.”

The interim leader of the industry association Airlines for Europe (A4E), Laurent Donceel, reportedly told the AFP news agency that preventing these trips would have a minimal effect on CO2 emissions.

He also underlined the need for governments to support “actual and substantial solutions” to the problem.

The COVID-19 epidemic has had a significant influence on the airline sector worldwide.

According to the aircraft tracking website Flightradar24, there were over 42% fewer flights in 2018 than in 2019.

There had been pressure on the French government to enact stricter rules.

The France Citizens’ Convention on Climate was founded in 2019 by President Emmanuel Macron and consists of 150 members of the general public.

This convention proposed banning air travel for distances that could be covered by trains that took less than four hours.

However, the initially intended four-hour restriction for train alternatives was ultimately lowered to two and a half hours in response to concerns voiced by several regions and Air France-KLM.

The French consumer group UFC-Que Choisir had pushed lawmakers to keep the four-hour cutoff for switching from flying to taking trains prior to this decision.

According to UFC-Que Choisir, on these particular routes, planes generate 77 times more CO2 per passenger than railroads do.

They also stressed the fact that trains result in a time difference of just 40 minutes and are also more cost-effective.

The consumer group also called for measures to prevent the French national railway, SNCF, from taking advantage of the circumstance by raising rates or lowering the caliber of rail services.

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