If you have clients traveling in France this summer, they’ll need to take a train and not a plane in order to go from Paris’s Orly airport to Nantes, Bordeaux, or Lyon.
That’s the most immediate effect of a decree announced by the French government that prohibits short-term flights on routes that can be completed by train in less than 2.5 hours.
France’s Ban Includes Exceptions
However, the mandate includes several exceptions that limit its scope, notably one that exempts flights from the far busier Charles De Gaulle International Airport from the ban. Caveats regarding the number of daily trains required to replace air travel and stipulating that rail connections facilitate “more than eight hours of on-site presence during the day,” have the net effect of the rule initially impacting only a handful of routes.
The decree is part of a broader package intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The University of Pennsylvania’s Kleinman Center for Energy Policy estimates that the per-person emission savings for travel by rail rather than air can be 37 percent or higher.
“Achieving carbon neutrality means strongly stepping up our action in terms of decarbonizing transport, which still accounts for 30 percent of emissions,” said Clement Beaune, France’s minister of transport, in a press statement. “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?”
Beaune said the decree, which applies to domestic airlines, “is an essential step and a strong symbol in the policy of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This measure is a world first which is fully in line with the [French] Government’s policy of encouraging the use of modes of transport that emit less greenhouse gases.”