When it comes to trying to be a more sustainable tourist, reducing the amount we fly is one of the most effective individual changes travellers can make. But with the convenience and affordability of short-haul flights, sometimes people need a push in the right direction – which is why Spain could soon be following France’s example of banning short-haul flights in an effort to curb the country’s emissions.
A study released by Ecologistas en Acción revealed that eliminating short flights where there is a train alternative of up to four hours could save 300,000 tonnes of CO2 from being emitted per year. And if Spain actually replaced the proposed 11 air routes with trains, it could reduce the country’s domestic aviation emissions by a whopping 10 percent.
However, while Spain’s progressive government – the result of a coalition between the ruling Socialist Party and the far-left Sumar Party – supports the ban, for it to go ahead it would need the backing of smaller regional parties.
Surprisingly, environmentalists are quite critical of the proposal. The routes that could be impacted by the ban are those between the Spanish capital Madrid and other cities across the country, including Alicante, Barcelona, Seville and Valencia. However, international flights to and from the capital’s airport would not be included.
Much like the efforts in France, where there were only three short-haul routes that were successfully banned, it’s looking like the impact of these measures might be limited. Ecologistas en Acción described the measures as ‘purely symbolic’.
So, could Europe completely ban short-haul flights? A significant overhaul of rail travel across Europe is likely required before any kind of further restrictions on short-haul flights. But rail travel has gained momentum in Spain, with new high-speed services being developed – so watch this space.
The revival of rail travel in Europe
And it’s not just about convenience: many European countries are implementing measures to make train travel more affordable, with countries such as Germany, Portugal and France launching budget-friendly monthly transport passes. France also proposed a ban on super-cheap flights – so it looks like we’re only getting closer to the era of flight-free travel.
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