21 Oct 2021, 13:24
Charlotte Nijhuis

Environmental organisations call for end to short-haul flights in Germany

Clean Energy Wire / dpa

Several environmental organisations are calling for an immediate end to short-haul flights within Germany. Such a ban would save more than one million tonnes of CO2 annually, the fourteen NGOs write in a paper addressed to the parties currently in negotiations to form a ‘traffic light’ coalition, the Social Democrats (SPD), the Green Party and the Free Democrats (FDP). Under the title “Trains instead of flights”, the campaign calls for an end to flights to all destinations that can be reached within four hours by the country's high-speed train service ICE instead, and to make flights up to a distance of 1,500 kilometers redundant by strengthening rail transport. "Air travel is the most climate-damaging and unfair form of mobility. Abolishing unnecessary short-haul flights is an immediate measure for climate protection that is long overdue and easy to implement," said Jonas Asal from environmental organisation ROBIN WOOD. "Half of all domestic German flights can already be replaced by a rail journey of less than four hours, saving 1.6 million tonnes of CO2 annually," Werner Reh from Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) added. The future government should set the course for more attractive and cheaper rail transport, the NGOs write.  

The German Airports Association (ADV) opposes the idea. The potential for shifting traffic from air to rail is "not endless", head of the ADV Ralph Beisel told German press agency dpa, the Sueddeutsche Zeitung reports. Even if the rail network is significantly improved, "domestic air transport would remain an important pillar in the German mobility system”. Beisel added that "a good one third of passengers" use domestic German air traffic to change to an international flight. "Unilateral restrictions would weaken Germany's position as an aviation location in international competition - this would do nothing for the climate,” he argued.

According to a YouGov survey conducted earlier this year, seventy percent of Germans are in favour of banning short-haul flights in order to protect the climate, as long as the distances can be covered in three hours or less by train.

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