In France, even though it won’t be passed, an attempt to ban all domestic flights has received considerable support.
An average domestic flight in the country produces some 340kg (750lbs) of Co2 per person. High speed rail – and France has probably the worlds best service and coverage – is just 14.2kg (31.3lbs) per person.
The proposed law says that internal flights should be stopped if a rail journey is available and takes under five hours. In France, that’s the entire country.
It isn’t going to pass, but the European Parliament is going to push tough changes and has the support of the new EU Commission taking up office.
These changes are going to have a global impact and are the direct result of the climate change pressure groups and anti-flyer movements reaching widely into the public conscience.
Nobody is trying to stop people flying. What they are doing is asking people to look at the alternatives – railways are that alternative in a highly connected Europe.
The new proposals are designed to end an element of the international 1944 aviation treaties that govern the industry and have done now for 75 years.
The key part is the ban on taxation of aviation fuel. That’s the top priority for the legislature. Remove the ban and start taxing aviation fuel will have major impact.
- Tax will encourage people on to rail
- It will reduce flights and reduce Co2 emissions dramatically
- It will encourage manufacturers to produce electric aircraft and accelerate change
- It will push airlines to more quickly adopt biofuel alternatives
- Force airlines to put environmental and recycling issues to the forefront rather than the slow pace of change that currently pervades the industry
There is much to be said for the fact that only by being forced through legislation will dramatic change start to happen. The whole electric car situation in the UK and especially Norway and Holland, proves that when government acts, change can be rapid. The UK was only yesterday described as in “the dash for electric”. Fossil fuelled cars will be forced to end production by 2035 and gasoline sales will be banned from 2040. It’s already having major impact.
Younger generations are far more motivated to force change as the climate is reaching a breaking point. Co2 recently passed 415 parts per million – it’s doubled in the last 100 years and is now higher than 3,000,000 years ago.
Like it or not aviation will have to change – and it can, it’s an essential ingredient of modern life. It just needs to see that it has to do what it does differently and the faster it responds the quicker it can get to making profits without damaging the atmosphere it flys in.