- The law essentially prohibits public domestic flights between French destinations when a train journey of less than 2 hours and 30 minutes is available.
- The World Wide Fund for Nature describes aviation’s environmental footprint as “one of the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions driving global climate change”.
A plane in the sky of France. The government wants to reduce short-haul flights within the country to reduce emissions.
Alain Pitton | Nurphoto | Getty Images
A French ban on short-haul domestic flights when there are alternative rail routes came into effect this week, with a lawmaker hailing it as “an essential step” in the country’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. tight.
The law, which was issued by decree, essentially prohibits public domestic flights between French destinations when a train journey of less than 2 hours and 30 minutes is available.
France is home to an extensive high-speed rail network. According to a CNBC translation, flight substitution only applies when train travel “provides satisfactory alternative service.”
This means that public passenger flights between Paris-Orly and cities such as Bordeaux, Nantes and Lyon are affected by the law. Connecting flights are not affected.
In a statement translated by CNBC, Clément Beaune, Minister of Transport, described the decision as “an essential step and a strong symbol in the policy of reducing greenhouse gas emissions”.
Beaune also said the ban was a “world first which is fully in line with the government’s policy of encouraging the use of modes of transport which emit less greenhouse gases”.
The World Wide Fund for Nature describes aviation’s environmental footprint as “one of the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions driving global climate change”.
The WWF also claims that air travel is “currently the most carbon-intensive activity an individual can do”.
The news from France comes as the wider debate over the use of private jets continues. In March 2023, analysis published by Greenpeace showed that the number of private jet flights in Europe last year jumped 64% to a record 572,806.
The use of private jets by wealthy and prominent people generates a lot of discussion.
During a BBC interview earlier this year, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates was asked about the accusation that a climate change campaigner’s use of a private jet was hypocritical.
“Well, I’m buying the gold standard of funding (CO2 removal company) Climeworks to do direct air capture that far exceeds my family’s carbon footprint,” Gates replied, who was being interviewed in Kenya.
“And I spend billions of dollars on…climate innovation. So, you know, should I stay home and not come to Kenya and learn about agriculture and malaria?”
The billionaire added that he was “comfortable with the idea that, not only am I not part of the problem by paying the compensations, but also through the billions that my Breakthrough Energy Group spends, that I am part of the solution.”
Although the direct air capture sector has prominent funders, it faces challenges. The International Energy Agency notes that capturing carbon dioxide from the air “is more energy intensive and therefore more expensive than capturing it from a point source.”
He adds that technologies such as direct air capture “are not an alternative to reducing emissions or an excuse to delay action, but they can be an important part of the suite of technology options used to achieve climate goals.
—CNBC’s Sam Meredith contributed to this report