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The French Connection

France has introduced a historic new initiative to address its climate change challenge. Cutting down on flights. Availing of more trains by the passengers. Should others countries in the European Union follow?

France has introduced a new green initiative to address the carbon emission in its country. Any journey that is possible to cover in less than two and half hours by train cannot be taken as a flight. This is a great initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

These changes were proposed by the country’s citizen’s assembly which was given the responsibility to find ways and means to reduce carbon emissions.

There have been both positive and negative feedbacks to this initiative.

This cut off is a bit less than the time it takes to travel to one of France’s main cities, Marseille. So, if the 3-hour flight ban would have been in place, it could have cut down more flights compared to the current rule. Additionally, fights between Marseille and Lyon (covered under 2 hour) and between Rene and Charles de Gaulle airport are exempted from this flight rule. To be fair, trains to airports in Paris and Lyon do not allow passengers to arrive early in the morning or late in the evening.

Another interesting point is that the rule stipulates a passenger should be able to spend 8 hours at their destination while travelling there and back on the same day.

As of now, private jets are not included. The French transport minister has already commented on the travel of the elites in private jets which emits more carbon per person. French government is discussing about raising charges for private jets. Recently Schiphol airport of Amsterdam announced that private jets would no longer be welcome under the new environment law.

Environmentalists are not very happy due to the several exemptions. They are also questioning this 2.5 hour cut off which, according to them, should be further reconsidered in order to make it more effective. They have started campaigning so that other EU countries also implement this.

Additionally, it will provide a chance to multiple players in the transport sectors to contribute and improve the rail infrastructure thereby making it easier for people across socio-economic strata to avail such facilities at an affordable cost. There is also an ideal opportunity to overhaul the entire public infrastructure for the purpose.

It might encourage various startups to contribute through technology innovations in a transport that has been primarily of mass benefit.

Even for the tourists from across the globe this will provide wider options to travel across the length and breadth of the country while also enjoying the beautiful and scenic natural landscapes of France. A renewed appreciation for nature!!

Nevertheless, it is a historic attempt to curb carbon emissions. Reimagining cultural and behavioural change which makes people use the trains instead of flights. This is a baby step but significant in the right direction. Western developed countries which can afford such luxurious travel were contributing to the carbon emissions in a far substantive way that their economically poorer counterparts. Unfortunately, it was always the latter which had to face the wrath of nature due to the unavailability of adequate resources to face the changes due to climate.

It will be interesting to keep a tab on how this rule will further unfold in the future that will help us in a substantive manner to keep the exponentially growing carbon emissions number under check.

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