France is becoming the first country in the European Union bloc to impose the rule of reducing carbon emissions and getting more citizens to use the French high-speed trains, known as TGV.
The French government, in April this year, will stop short flights to destinations that could be reached by a 2.4 hours train journey, including here trips from Paris to destinations known as Bordeaux and Lyon.
In April 2021, members of the French parliament voted to suspend short domestic flights if the journey could be completed by train within an hour and a half or less to reduce carbon emissions. Meanwhile, flights from Paris to Toulouse, which last four hours, and those from Paris to Nice, which last about six hours by train, will continue to operate.
In November 2021, the French Minister of Transport Jean-Baptiste Djebbari highlighted that France has a specific railway network with many high-speed trains, making it suitable for travellers. “It’s possible that we have the discussion [at an EU level], but so far we have a national approach, given the national railway network,” Djebbari noted.
France currently has 2800 kilometres of high-speed trains connecting destinations like London, Amsterdam, and Frankfurt. Still, it does not restrict flights with them even though those destinations are easily accessible by train. In addition, AirFrance, which is the flag carrier of France, in January 2022, became the first airline to introduce additional biofuel tariffs, with other airlines aiming to follow suit.
Meanwhile, Sweden has also announced plans to become the first to charge a take-off and take-off fee for older and less fuel-efficient aircraft. Similar bans are considered to occur in Germany and the Scandinavian countries.
In this regard, Germany has doubled taxes on short-haul flights and is considering the idea as well, while in Austria, the national carrier has removed its well-known route from Vienna to Salzburg.
On the other hand, Greenpeace EU is also pushing to ban flights with an alternative rail journey of fewer than six hours. In addition, the European Union has announced plans to double its high-speed rail line by 2030 to help speed up rail crossings.
In a statement issued on 11 January, the Greenpeace European Unit said that the European Commission is trying to identify specific activities for fossil and nuclear gas as sustainable investments in the EU taxonomy of green economic activity, urging the Commission to focus more on rail than plane travel.
The statements also revealed that according to the European Commission, nuclear projects launched in 2045 with a construction permit would be allowed for private investment and provided they show plans for radioactive waste management.
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