12 Mar 2019, 14:00
Benjamin Wehrmann

Debate on curbing aviation emissions gains traction in Germany


The growing level of emissions caused by air travel has started to move into the debate about Germany’s climate action, Helge Hommers writes for the newspaper Tagesspiegel. A call to allow every citizen a maximum of three flights per year by Green MP Dieter Janecek in an interview with newspaper Merkur had been met by vigorous opposition from other parties, which also showed that the topic has so far not been given the attention it deserves, Hommers says. The Green politician had proposed that everyone who wants to fly more than three times a year would have to buy allowances from fellow citizens who have not consumed their own flying budget under a scheme similar to the EU’s emissions trading system (ETS).

Travelling by plane emits up to six times more CO2 per kilometre than a bus journey, Hommers says, adding that aviation in Germany contributes to the fact that the average citizen produces five times more carbon emissions than what would be allowed if the target of limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius was to be achieved. Thanks to favourable taxation and subsidies, flying is much cheaper than other transport options also on short trips, which explains why over a quarter of all destinations reachable from Germany’s biggest airport in Frankfurt are less than 500 kilometres away, he writes.

Leading German climate researcher Hans Joachim Schellnhuber recently made an even more radical proposal by saying that domestic flights in Germany should be banned altogether to bring down aviation emissions. Environment minister Svenja Schulze in early March said she would be open to introducing fresh regulations for aviation to reduce emissions, as proposed by Belgium’s government.

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