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Europe's new green mobility: fewer domestic flights, now it's time to travel by train

Although Europe is now one of the least polluting places on the planet, much still needs to be done to change our lifestyle in a truly green way. Fortunately, the economic prosperity the Continent enjoys allows people to focus on these aspects much more than elsewhere.

The trend in recent years, which started thanks to the 'Flight shame' initiative in 2018, is to reduce domestic flights, preferring instead other, greener forms, such as train or car sharing. Indeed, short-haul flights within national borders are a terribly polluting way of travelling, and so Europeans are looking for other solutions.

Many nations, reading the statistics, are putting incentives in place and are already seeing significant changes in behaviour. In fact, most European states are already seeing a marked decrease in domestic flights compared to the past. With all this, the Old Continent continues to confirm itself as the perfect place for truly functioning green active policies.

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Europe's new green mobility: fewer domestic flights, now travel by train
Although Europe is to date one of the least polluting places on the planet, much still needs to be done to change our lifestyles in a truly green way. Fortunately, the economic prosperity the Continent enjoys allows people to focus on these aspects much more than elsewhere. The trend in recent years, which began thanks to the "Flight shame" initiative in 2018, is to reduce domestic flights, preferring instead other, greener forms of travel, such as by train or car sharing. In fact, short-haul flights within national borders are a terribly polluting way of traveling, and so Europeans are looking for other solutions. Many nations, reading the statistics, are putting incentives in place and are already seeing significant changes in behavior. In fact, most European states are already seeing a marked decrease in domestic flights compared to the past. With all of this, the Old Continent continues to confirm itself as the perfect place for truly working green active policies.
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Europeans turn to green
The economic and social well-being generally experienced in Europe is allowing citizens to develop a new green mentality, especially when it comes to short-haul travel. Indeed, in recent years a new trend is emerging, with travellers in the Old Continent tending to prefer the train, or other sustainable means, to travel within national borders, instead of the plane, a means that is perhaps cheaper and faster but also much more polluting
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The "Flight Shame" movement
In order to dissuade people from taking short-haul domestic flights for travel, the 'Flight Shame' moment was born in Sweden in 2018. The aim of this new green mobility, of course, is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and combat climate change as much as possible.
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The Eurocontrol data
Eurocontrol is a pan-European civil-military organisation dedicated to supporting European aviation. Its data, collected in 2022, indicate a large reduction in domestic flights in favour of, for example, rail. To give a few examples, 38% fewer domestic flights took off from Germany than in 2019. In Lithuania and Finland, they decreased by 38% and 35% respectively.
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The most virtuous countries in the European Union.
This data show that Germany, Finland and Lithuania are the most virtuous countries in Europe in terms of decreasing domestic short-haul flights. These three are joined by Ukraine, with a drop of 87% between 2019 and 2022. Obviously, the terrible war against Russia, which is devastating the country and its infrastructure, also influences these figures.
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A declining trend across the continent
The United Kingdom recorded a 25% decrease in domestic flights. Austria (-32%), Sweden (-27%), Switzerland (-20%), Croatia (-19%) and Ireland (-17%) also recorded significant decreases.
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Hungary Europe's only black jersey
15% was the drop recorded by France in the period under consideration. Spain and Portugal also saw a decrease in domestic flights, by 7 and 6 per cent respectively. Orban's Hungary is currently the only country in the eurozone that has seen an increase in domestic flights, where they have risen by 56% since 2019.
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The credit does not lie solely with individual citizens
The trend towards a greener lifestyle, especially in terms of travel, is not only attributable to the qualities and virtues of individual European citizens. In fact, individual states are also making major efforts, together with the European Commission, to implement active policies and incentives to dissuade people from taking short-haul domestic flights. At the moment, this seems to be working rather well.
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The active policies of Germany and France
Delving deeper into this, suffice it to say that Germany has introduced a discounted public transport pass, offering travellers unlimited use of local and regional transport for only EUR 9 per month. Or, Spain has invested more than EUR 700 million in a scheme that provides free tickets to long- and short-haul travellers.
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Eurocontrol's hard data, not all that glitters is gold
Looking at the cold numbers, and reading the report, one reads that in 2022 there was an overall decrease of 16.7%, which corresponds to 4989 fewer daily flights in the network. However, the data shows how by 2029 the figures could return to pre-pandemic levels.
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The convenience of train travel compared to air travel
The restructuring of European railway routes is contributing to the discovery of this means of transport. Furthermore, it is very easy to calculate aircraft emissions, and it is just as easy to realise how disproportionate they are. For example, according to the flight emissions calculator, a round trip economy class flight from London to New York emits about 1.48 tonnes of CO2 per passenger, more than twice the average output of a person in Ghana in a whole year.
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26/02/2024
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