France banned short-haul domestic flights in a decree published Tuesday over concerns that the trips will accelerate climate change.
The new decree will prohibit flights when a rail trip of less than two and a half hours is available to travelers, effectively ceasing flights between the cities of Nantes, Bordeaux, Lyons, and the Paris-Orly International Airport. Clément Beaune, the nation’s transport minister, said in a press release that he strongly supports the move.
“Achieving carbon neutrality means strongly stepping up our action in terms of decarbonizing transport, which still accounts for 30% of emissions. As we fight relentlessly to decarbonize our lifestyles, how can we justify the use of the plane between the big cities which benefit from regular, fast and efficient connections by train?” the official commented. “This is an essential step and a strong symbol in the policy of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This measure is a world first which is fully in line with the government’s policy of encouraging the use of modes of transport that emit less greenhouse gasses.”
The new policy stemmed from the work of the Citizens’ Convention on Climate, a panel of 150 randomly selected residents meant to be “representative of the diversity of French society” and are charged with creating “measures that will allow to achieve a reduction of at least 40% in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030” while maintaining a “spirit of social justice.”
Entities such as the World Economic Forum have cited restrictions on short-haul flights as a possible mechanism to reduce carbon emissions: the organization released a report last year which noted that electric or hydrogen aircraft could eliminate emissions over short distances. United Airlines meanwhile launched an effort with companies such as JPMorgan Chase and Honeywell to support startups seeking to accelerate “the research, production, and technologies associated with sustainable aviation fuel” with materials such as biomass and waste resources.
Nations in the European Union have adopted ambitious policies in order to conform their economies to the European Green Deal and the Paris Climate Agreement, both of which call for net zero emissions by 2050. French President Emmanuel Macron unveiled plans to construct offshore wind farms and multiply solar power generation last year. “We need a massive acceleration,” the official said in a speech. “I want us to go at least twice as fast for renewable energy projects.”
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Moves to decrease carbon emissions occur even as the European Union suffers from energy shortages as a result of Russia ceasing energy shipments to the continent, an apparent retaliation for the support of Ukraine. Macron asserted last year that economic turmoil from elevated power prices is evidence that his nation ought to become energy independent, particularly by means of renewable sources.
Opponents of governments managing a transition toward renewable energy have observed that increased carbon emissions from China, as well as India and other developing countries, are outpacing emissions declines in the West. China was responsible for 26.1% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions as of 2018, according to data from the International Energy Agency, surpassing the 13.4% of worldwide emissions produced by the United States and the 7.6% of worldwide emissions produced by members of the European Union.