France bans short-haul domestic flights: Can curbs on airplane emissions help fight climate change

Source: The post is based on the article “France bans short-haul domestic flights: Can curbs on airplane emissions help fight climate change” published in The Hindu on 31st May 2023

What is the News?

France has announced a ban on domestic short-haul flights where train alternatives exist, in a bid to cut carbon emissions.

About France’s ban on domestic short-haul flights

France has become the first country in the world to impose a ban on short-haul domestic flights.

It has brought a new law which bars air travel to destinations that can be covered by up to two-and-a-half-hour journeys by train. 

However, this move has been criticized as there is no way to ensure that passengers prevented from taking a flight would necessarily travel by train. 

The law can possibly push more people to use their cars to make the journey, thus nullifying whatever little gains that could have accrued by the avoided air travel.

How much does air transport contribute to global CO2 emissions?

Air transport, globally, accounts for just about 2% of global carbon dioxide emissions every year, and less than two per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.

Though the airline industry’s contribution to the overall greenhouse gas emissions is still very small, it is still considered a big worry, mainly due to two reasons: 1) it is generated by a very small fraction of the global population and 2) it is projected to grow at a very fast pace.

Moreover, emissions from international aviation fall in a grey area. The emissions from planes flying within the boundaries of a country are attributed to that country.But emissions from airlines making international flights are not attributable to any country. 

What are the steps taken against greenhouse gas emissions by airlines?

In 2016, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) put in place an offset mechanism called CORSIA to ensure that any increase in emissions over 2020 levels is compensated for by the airline industry through investment in carbon-saving projects elsewhere. 

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