Discouraging flights from one European country to another and promoting the train as an alternative is “not useful,” according to researchers at the KU Leuven.
Air traffic within Europe falls under the European Emission Ceiling Directive, which means that the aviation industry within Europe has to pay per tonne of CO2 it emits.
However, international rail traffic falls under that same emission directive. “A side effect of this is that the European CO2 emissions total would not fall if air travel on our continent is discouraged. After all, what a European flight emits less, will be emitted more in another sector, like electricity production or industry,” according to the report of the interdisciplinary think tank Metaforum at the KU Leuven.
For destinations outside the EU, the emission ceiling is not a factor. “Each air trip less of this type means a net reduction in CO2 emissions,” said the researchers.
“Theoretically, what they say is correct, but they forget that the emissions system is constantly being revised,” said Mathias Bienstman, of Bond Beter Leefmilieu (Association for a Better Environment), reports Knack. “If people suddenly start taking a lot of short flights, aviation will come under less pressure and resist tightening the standard. Additionally, we need to reach zero emissions by 2050, and planes are still far from carbon-free,” he added.
The Brussels Times