Air France machine (archive picture): In the future, flight connections will be prohibited if a destination can be reached by train in less than 2.5 hours
Photo: Regis Duvignau / REUTERS
The French National Assembly has passed a law that has been hotly debated for weeks: Among other things, the new climate protection law provides for domestic flights to be banned - provided that there is an acceptable train connection as an alternative.
France has a well-developed network of the TGV express train.
Strictly speaking, the new regulation means that a flight connection will be prohibited if a destination can also be reached by train in less than 2.5 hours of travel time.
Hardly any CO2 savings
The Climate Protection Act is remarkable for several reasons.
On the one hand, this is because the legislative initiative sparked one of the longest parliamentary debates in the history of the republic.
On the other hand, the way in which the climate protection measures came about is unusual: Initially, a citizens' convention had developed and proposed 150 measures, 70 of which have now been incorporated into the law.
With regard to domestic flights, the Citizens' Convention even called for significantly stricter measures, namely a reasonable train travel time of up to four hours.
The new regulations include the introduction of an ecocide offense: In the future, serious damage to the environment can be punished with imprisonment of up to ten years and heavy fines.
Another reason why the law has been debated in the National Assembly for so long is that neither side seems to be entirely satisfied with it.
On the one hand, there is criticism from right-wing and conservative politicians who see an unjustified interference by the state in the economy and the travel behavior of citizens.
On the other hand, the flight ban does not go far enough for many environmentalists.
One of the reasons for this is that the short domestic connections that have now been banned cause only a tiny fraction of the total CO2 emissions from air traffic.
Their ban should reduce emissions by less than one percent.