France Bans Short Domestic Flights to Reduce Carbon Emissions

In an effort to cut down on carbon emissions, France has officially banned many short-haul domestic flights. The country will no longer allow flights within its borders when similar high-speed train service takes two-and-a-half hours or less.

“As we fight relentlessly to decarbonize our lifestyles, how can we justify the use of the plane between the big cities which benefit from regular, fast and efficient connections by train?” Minister Delegate for Transport Clément Beaune said in a statement.

The ban currently affects three routes, from Paris-Orly airport to Nantes, Bordeaux, and Lyon. The country plans to reevaluate the ban in three years, with the potential for more routes to follow suit. The law requires there to be high-speed train service between the destinations, as well as trains that run early and late in the day to allow at least eight hours spent at the destination in question.

The law originally looked to ban journeys less than four hours by train, but was rolled back after pressure from airlines. Environmental groups criticized the law for not going further, noting that these routes represent just 3 percent of domestic emissions from airlines and only .3 percent from all airline activity in France.

“No one will be fooled by this measure: passengers are naturally turning away from taking flights on these routes,” said Guillaume Schmid the former vice president of Air France’s pilots’ union, on Twitter.

The United States has many similar flights connecting destinations as close together as New York City and Hartford, CT. However, France's extensive high-speed rail system offers more workable alternatives to flying.