The European Commission has approved France’s plan to prohibit some short-haul flights on routes where passengers could take the train in under 2.5 hours instead.
The country’s overall goal to cut carbon emissions by 40% by 2030 includes the prohibition, which aims to minimize carbon emissions from planes in France. The new regulation represents the first time a nation has passed a law forbidding flights because of environmental concerns.
The action, which will put a halt to flights between Paris Orly Airport and the cities of Nantes, Bordeaux, and Lyon, has been approved as legal by the European Commission.
The aviation sector initially opposed the ban, but the EC concluded France was right in enacting it as long as it is “non-discriminatory, does not distort competition amongst air carriers, and is not more restrictive than necessary to ease the problem.” The decree will be in effect for three years, after which the Commission will evaluate it.
In fact, the French Parliament established a “Climate and Resilience Law” in 2021 that should make it possible to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 40% by the year 2030. Although past discussions of outright bans on private flying have not come to pass, the French government is now proposing to charge private planes in an effort to reduce the number of private fliers.
The EU has welcomed the small improvement France has provided, but it is now time to clear up any remaining confusion and make it clear to the other EU nations that outlawing short-haul flights is the best course of action going forward. Greenpeace claimed that 25% of the CO2 emissions from European aviation are attributable to flights under 1,500 kilometres.
It predicted that eliminating the most popular short-haul flights inside the EU and switching to rail if a train connection under six hours already existed would result in an annual CO2 reduction of the equivalent of 3.5 million tonnes.