France Officially Bans People From Owning Themselves by Flying Instead of Taking Fast, Convenient Trains

The ban on commercial flights where fast, frequent high-speed rail service exists cleared a major hurdle.
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France can officially ban commercial flights along three corridors after getting European Commission approval on Friday, according to various press reports. The country is also pursuing measures to limit the usage of private jets in the country which are far more polluting on a per-passenger basis than commercial planes.

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“This is a major step forward in the policy of reducing greenhouse gas emissions…I am proud that France is a pioneer in this area,” said France transport minister ​​Clément Beaune.

The European Commission approval comes more than a year after France passed a sweeping climate bill that, among other things, banned short-haul commercial flights between cities that can be traveled by train in two and a half hours or less. Initially, this impacted five routes: Paris Orly to Bordeaux, Lyon, Nantes, Rennes; and Lyon to Marseille. But after the EC investigation and approval, the ban will go ahead for three of those routes: Paris Orly and Nantes, Lyon, and Bordeaux.

While three routes doesn’t sound like a lot, it breaks an important barrier for climate laws. Limiting the usage—and expansion—of plane flights is an important climate goal given the outsized emissions of even a single flight, especially when there are viable and cleaner alternatives like high-speed rail. 

Similarly, France will also be looking into limiting the use of private jets, which emit many times more CO2 per passenger than premium-class passengers on commercial flights. According to government spokesman Olivier Véran, via Euronews, “the French should not have to feel as if it’s always the same people who are being asked to make efforts…“We can understand that a Frenchman who is careful in his daily life is shocked by the fact that some of his fellow citizens can take a private jet to make flea jumps.” While Véran stopped short of calling for a ban on private jets, he said the government will look into heavy taxation and restrictions. It is virtually unheard of for government officials or politicians to speak publicly about curtailing the use of private jets.