Airplane in the sky over France. The government there wants to limit short-haul flights in the country to reduce emissions.

Alain Pitton | Nurphoto | Getty Images

France’s ban on short-haul domestic flights if there are alternative train routes came into effect this week, with one lawmaker hailing it as a “crucial step” in the country’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

A law that has been published through a decreeessentially prohibits public domestic flights between French destinations if a train journey of less than 2 hours 30 minutes is available.

France is home to an extensive high-speed rail network. According to CNBC’s translation, flight reimbursement will only be used if train travel “provides a satisfactory alternative service.”

This means that public passenger flights between Paris-Orly and cities such as Bordeaux, Nantes and Lyon are covered by the law. Connecting flights are not affected.

IN declaration Clément Beaune, transport minister, translated by CNBC, described the move as “an essential step and a strong symbol in the policy of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

Beaune also said the ban was “a global first that is fully in line with the government’s policy of promoting the use of modes of transport that emit less greenhouse gases”.

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The World Wide Fund for Nature describes the environmental footprint of aviation as “one of the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions that cause global climate change”.

WWF also says that air travel is “currently the most carbon-intensive activity an individual can do”.

The news from France comes as a wider debate rages over wages for using private jets. In March 2023 analysis published by Greenpeace showed that the number of private jet flights in Europe jumped 64% to a record 572,806 last year.

The use of private jets by the high-profile and wealthy generates a great deal of debate.

During BBC interview earlier this year, Microsoft Co-founder Bill Gates was asked for his opinion on allegations that the climate change campaigner’s use of a private jet was hypocritical.

“Well, I’m buying the gold standard, I’m funding (CO2 removal firm) Climeworks to do direct air capture, which far exceeds my family’s carbon footprint,” Gates, who was interviewed in Kenya. he replied.

“And I’m spending billions of dollars on… climate innovation. So, you know, should I stay home and not come to Kenya and learn about agriculture and malaria?”

The billionaire added that he is comfortable with the idea that not only am I not part of the problem by paying for compensation, but also that, thanks to the billions my group Breakthrough Energy is spending, I am part of the solution. “

While the direct air capture sector has high-profile supporters, it faces challenges. The International Energy Agency notes that capturing carbon dioxide from the air “is more energy-intensive and therefore more expensive than point-source capture.”

He adds that technologies such as direct air capture “are not an alternative to reducing emissions or an excuse for delayed action, but can be an important part of the set of technological options used to achieve climate goals.”

—CNBC’s Sam Meredith contributed to this report

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