France has taken a step to address climate change, banning short-haul domestic flights where travel by train is a viable option.
According to BBC News, the law bans any domestic flights covering travel that could be completed in under two-and-a-half hours by train. The new law is significantly less aggressive than the original proposal, which would have banned flights that could be replaced by a four-hour or less train ride.
Critics are saying the final legislation is more symbolic than anything, and doesn’t address the real issues.
“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,” said French consumer group UFC-Que Choisir. The group had called on lawmakers to uphold the original four-hour proposal.
The group 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”.
As BBC News points out, the airline industry is still suffering the effects of the pandemic, with flights still down from pre-pandemic levels. The government was likely concerned about passing overly restrictive measures on an industry that is still trying to recover.