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European Commission

Climate warning

Europe's cheap flights encourage climate catastrophe and leave no chance to train travels

In a worrying but not too surprising analysis, Greenpeace exposes the alarming reality of Europe's travel choices. Cheap flights, made possible by unjust tax breaks for airlines, are enticing travelers to board planes instead of opting for sustainable train travel, resulting in devastating consequences for our planet.
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The environmental organization compared tickets on 112 routes across Europe and found that, on average, train tickets were twice as expensive as flights for the same routes. Shockingly, the cost of taking the train from London to Barcelona can be up to 30 times higher than flying. This unsustainable trend is driving greenhouse gas emissions and contributing to the intensifying heatwaves that have gripped the continent.
“€10 airline tickets are only possible because others, like workers and taxpayers, pay the true cost,” said Lorelei Limousin, a climate campaigner at Greenpeace.
Greenpeace's analysis unveiled that train travel was more expensive than flying on 79 out of 121 routes studied. Although there were individual days when train fares were lower than flight prices, the average cost remained higher. Trains outperformed planes on eight or nine of the nine days tested on 23 routes. However, only half of these routes were deemed "great" for their reliability, speed, and affordable tickets below €150.

The heart of the problem lies in airlines' privileged treatment. In Europe, airlines enjoy tax exemptions on kerosene and minimal taxation on tickets or VAT. Their emissions are priced below the social cost of carbon for flights within Europe. According to Transport and Environment, European governments lost a staggering €34.2 billion in 2022 due to inadequate aviation taxation. Imagine if all this money was going to sustainable transport options instead! We need to start taxing aviation just like other industries and remove fossil fuel subsidies. Another solution that Greenpeace underlines is for countries to implement affordable transport tickets, just like Austria or Germany.





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  • Shanti Lall

    41 w

    Governments need to make train travel cheap in order to encourage it and phase out flight as an option, certainly for short journeys.

    • George Kariuki

      43 w

      Transitioning to more sustainable travel choices is essential in the fight against climate change and in reducing the transportation sector's carbon footprint.

      4
    • johnte ndeto

      43 w

      Such detailed information being on the public domain really shows efforts in creating awareness and exposing climate ignorance

      3
      • Joyce Waturu

        43 w

        This isn't good at all.Thanks Greenpeace for exposing this ugly scenario.

        2
        • Jengaj John

          43 w

          Rail is a cleaner transportation alternative to flights and has the lowest emissions per passenger mile ratio than any other means of transport.

          3
          • rosebellendiritu

            43 w

            @jengaj_john true and people should opt for the more sustainable means

            1
          • Lucinda Ramsay

            43 w

            Tax flying and end low cost airlines making huge profits. Flying should be an expensive option to get anywhere.

            3
            • Markus Lutteman

              43 w

              So weird that we are still subsidizing the most destructive means of transport

              4
              • Kevin

                43 w

                This is a crisis that really needs addressing

                6
                • Princess

                  43 w

                  The developed world has dug ourselves into a global warming hole, we’ve spoiled ourselves with ridiculously cheap air tickets and expect to travel inhuman distances almost instantaneously.

                  9
                  • rosebellendiritu

                    43 w

                    @princess_nel_268 it's comfort that we will pay dearly for.

                    3
                  • Joseph Githinji

                    43 w

                    We must all accept to keep environment well being before luxury. It's sad when we chose the expensive way and the harmful method to our very own climate.

                    14
                    • rosebellendiritu

                      43 w

                      @joseph_githinji we choose luxury but we regret later

                      2
                    • mercy nduta

                      43 w

                      Travel by plane is a significant contributor to climate change, which has to be addressed as a whole.

                      16
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