France bans short-haul flights to combat carbon emissions

(Photo by JULIEN DE ROSA/AFP via Getty Images)

OAN’s Brooke Mallory
6:34 PM – Tuesday, May 23, 2023

In an effort to reduce carbon emissions, France has outlawed domestic short-haul flights if trains can be used as a replacement.


Two years after legislators decided to end routes where it would take less than two and a half hours to do the same trip by train, the law came into effect.

While connecting flights are unaffected, the embargo virtually eliminates air travel between Paris and places like Nantes, Lyon, and Bordeaux. The most recent actions have been criticized as “symbolic bans.”

According to Laurent Donceel, interim CEO of trade association Airlines for Europe (A4E), “banning these trips will only have minimal effects” on CO2 emissions.

Governments should be promoting “real and significant solutions” to the problem, Donceel asserted.

Repercussions from the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted airlines all around the world. According to the website Flightradar24, there were roughly 42% fewer flights last year than in 2019.

There had been requests for the French government to enact even harsher regulations.

150 members of the public participated in President Emmanuel Macron’s Citizens’ Convention on Climate, which suggested eliminating air travel when trains with shorter commutes existed. However, this was shortened to two and a half hours in response to complaints from a few regions and the airline Air France-KLM. Earlier, the French consumer organization UFC-Que Choisir urged lawmakers to keep the four-hour limit.

“On average, the plane emits 77 times more CO2 per passenger than the train on these routes, even though the train is cheaper and the time lost is limited to 40 minutes,” they said in a statement.

The declaration also called for “safeguards that [French national railway] SNCF will not seize the opportunity to artificially inflate its prices or degrade the quality of rail service.”

Macron took to Twitter to share the news, stating, “Prohibit airlines in the event of an alternative of less than 2h30 by train. I committed to it. We are the first to do so.”

The tweet signifies the French government’s purported determination to prioritize sustainable transportation and tackle climate change through practical measures.

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