Pollution – Ban flights that can be replaced by the train?

Pollution – Ban flights that can be replaced by the train?
Pollution – Ban flights that can be replaced by the train?

Posted27 October 2021, 10:49

On Wednesday, the environmental NGO Greenpeace proposed to boost rail transport in order to limit air traffic. Aviation is indeed a major emitter of CO₂.

Trains represent an alternative to the plane.


A third of the busiest flights in the EU have a train alternative of less than six hours and their ban would save 3.5 million tonnes of CO₂, according to a study published on Wednesday by Greenpeace, which calls for “Radically change the way we travel”.

Deeming “necessary” a reduction in air traffic, in order to limit the global warming at 1.5 ° C, the NGO calls for “revitalizing rail transport”, “the poor relation of European public policies”.

A quarter of emissions

Flights of less than 1,500 kilometers represent a quarter of emissions from the European aviation sector, notes the NGO in this study commissioned from the think tank OBC Transeuropa. However, 51 of the 150 most frequented short-haul flights in the European Union (excluding island connections), i.e. 34% of them, already have a rail alternative of less than six hours.

The three busiest routes in the EU (Paris-Toulouse, Paris-Nice and Athens-Thessaloniki) are part of it. The study does not specify the proportion of passengers using these air links for connections.

Rail alternative

Twenty-one routes even have a rail alternative in less than four hours, including some international routes like Amsterdam-Paris, Amsterdam-Frankfurt, Brussels-Frankfurt and Paris-Frankfurt, the report notes.

More than a quarter (27%) of the 150 busiest connections also have a direct night train alternative in 2021. “We emit 10 times more CO₂ equivalent when we travel from Paris to Amsterdam by plane rather than ‘by train, while this journey can be done in less than 3:30 by train, ”notes Sarah Fayolle, Transport campaigner at Greenpeace France, quoted in a press release.

“The reduction in air traffic is essential to meet the climate objectives of the Paris Agreement, and the abolition of short flights is a first step in this regard”, she pleads.

“Not insignificant starting point”

The climatic benefit of the French decision to ban domestic air links, excluding connections, when there is an alternative by train in less than 2:30 is according to Greenpeace “too limited”. The global aviation sector emitted 900 million tonnes of CO₂ in 2019, or around 2.5% of global emissions.

Greenpeace agrees that “the limitation of short flights (less than 1500km), national and European, will not be enough to put the aviation sector on the rails of the Paris Agreement, (but) it is a starting point not insignificant ”.



Pollution Ban flights replaced train

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