Climate law: France votes to abolish certain short-haul domestic flights

·2-min read

The French parliament on Saturday voted to abolish certain domestic air routes that can also be made by train in less than 2.5 hours. This is just one of the many propositions in the government’s flagship climate bill currently under scrutiny by lawmakers.

The measure aims to remove flights between Paris and Nantes, Lyon and Bordeaux – although it allows exceptions for connecting routes.

It was voted on after lively debate in the National Assembly, during which MPs from south-western France – where the Toulouse headquarters Airbus is located – warned the aeronautics industry would be unfairly hit.

Politicians from both the right and the left warned of a "disproportionate human cost" involving "degrowth" and "unemployment" in a sector that is already suffering because of the Covid pandemic.

'Still not enough'

The measure, however, falls short of advice given by the Citizens' Climate Convention, which had called for domestic flights to be abandoned in the event a train trip of less than 4 hours was possible along the same route.

"The four hour limit would have made it possible to delete the routes that emit the most greenhouse gases," said Danièle Obono, of the leftwing La France Insoumise party.

Saturday night’s vote essentially ratifies measures that already exist, seeing as Air France had been made to give up those routes in return for financial support in May 2020.

Once it becomes law, the measure will prevent rival airlines from operating along those routes.

The climate bill also provides for gradual carbon offsetting of domestic flights, and a ban on the expansion of airport facilities if they result in increased emissions.

In a separate decision concerning the aviation sector, MPs voted last week to put a stop to using small aircraft to tow advertising banners, with a grace period until 1 January 2022 for small companies.

126 articles to be debated in Climate bill

Other recent measures voted on by MPs as part of the climate bill include the sale of 'loose' items in supermarkets in a bid to reduce the quantity of packaging.

The amendment, approved last Friday proposes that shops bigger than 400 sq metres will devote 20 percent of their surface area to the sale of bulk items, such as cereals between now and 2030.

MPs also voted to improve labelling on products by adding a "carbon score", a measure which would initially affect clothing manufacturers, to encourage transparency on how and where the garments are made.