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Activists not appeased after France bans domestic flights for climate change

One voice of opposition over restricting flights pointed to data that suggests more people will die in car accidents as a result.

Published: June 1, 2023 2:51pm

France’s recent decision to ban short-haul flights in the name of climate change is already being criticized by activists for not going far enough.

In late May, the French government enacted a new law wherein domestic flights will be disallowed when a train ride of two and a half hours or less is available for the same destination. 

Transportation minister Clement Beaune praised the law as an “essential step and a strong symbol in the policy of reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” adding that France is committed to fighting “relentlessly” to “decarbonize” day-to-day life. 

French President Emmanuel Macron bragged on Twitter about being the “first” in the world to enact such a policy.

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While many in the French parliament are gleeful, other members and climate activists still aren’t satisfied.

One group described the ban as “symbolic,” claiming more “meaningful” things should be done to reduce carbon emissions in France.

A French Member of Parliament also criticized the alleged frivolous “decree,” saying it has “no substance to it.”

According to Euronews, the law only cuts 5,000 of France’s 200,000 annual domestic flights (2.5%). 

But while green advocates claim further restrictions are essential to save lives and the planet, Cato Institute scholar Veronique de Rugy says it will have the opposite effect on humans.

"By diverting some travelers from the air to the roadways, the French government will almost certainly cause more travelers to die," Rugy wrote in Reason Magazine.

She explains that on average, people are 2,200 times more likely to die when traveling by car than by plane, according to a study by Harvard University. By cutting back thousands of flights, roadway deaths could naturally tick up

"Political theater, it turns out, can be deadly," she said.

Prior to the ban, activist group France Nature Environnement (FNE) called for a “cap” on the amount of flights in the country and a “curfew” at every airport.

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