· This is part of the government’s climate bill to cut French carbon emissions by 40% in 2030 from 1990 levels.
· Before this bill was passed, the state also said it would contribute to a 4 billion euro ($4.76 billion) recapitalisation of Air France, to help its recovery from COVID-19.
French lawmakers voted to abolish domestic flights on routes that can be covered by train in under two-and-a-half hours, as the government seeks to lower carbon emissions even as the air travel industry reels from the global pandemic.
The measure is part of a broader climate bill that aims to cut French carbon emissions by 40% in 2030 from 1990 levels, though activists accuse President Emmanuel Macron of watering down earlier promises in the draft legislation.
The vote came days after the state said it would contribute to a 4 billion euro ($4.76 billion) recapitalisation of Air France, more than doubling its stake in the flagcarrier, to shore up its finances after over a year of COVID-19 travel curbs.
Industry Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher dismissed criticism from the aviation industry that a pandemic recovery was not the time to ban some domestic flights, and said there was no contradiction between the bailout and the climate bill.
“We know that aviation is a contributor of carbon dioxide and that because of climate change we must reduce emissions,” she told Europe 1 radio. “Equally, we must support our companies and not let them fall by the wayside.”
Air traffic may not return to pre-crisis levels before 2024, McKinsey analysts forecast.
Some environmental campaigners have said the bill does not go far enough. A citizens’ climate forum established by Macron to help shape climate policy had called for the scrapping of flights on routes where the train journey is less than 4 hours.
What is the World Economic Forum doing to reduce aviation’s carbon footprint?
As other sectors proceed to decarbonize, the aviation sector could account for a much higher share of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by mid-century than its 2%-3% share today. With the number of air travel passengers expected to double by 2035, there’s a strong urgency for the aviation industry to act to ensure it can meet this demand in an environmentally sustainable manner.
Sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) can reduce the life-cycle carbon footprint of aviation fuel by up to 80%, but they currently make up less than 0.1% of total aviation fuel consumption. Enabling a shift from fossil fuels to SAFs will require a significant increase in production, which is a costly investment.
Launched in September 2019, the Forum’s Clean Skies for Tomorrow (CST) Coalition is a global initiative driving the transition to sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) as part of the aviation industry’s ambitious efforts to achieve carbon-neutral flying.
Run in collaboration with the Energy Transitions Commission and the Rocky Mountain Institute, with the Air Transport Action Group as an advisory partner, CST brings together government leaders, climate experts and CEOs from aviation, energy, finance and other sectors who agree on the urgent need to help the aviation industry reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Learn more about the Clean Skies for Tomorrow Coalition’s impact and contact us to find out how you can get involved.
Saturday April 11th’s vote in the National Assembly was the first. The bill goes to the Senate before a third and final vote in the lower house, where Macron’s ruling party and allies dominate.
($1 = 0.8406 euros)