France will officially ban short domestic flights between cities where travel by train is an option, in a significant step toward cutting the nation’s carbon emissions. What should not be missed is that this idea was first proposed by the 2020 France Citizens’ Convention on Climate, a randomly-selected group of French citizens who engaged in deliberation to develop climate policies.
The new policy bans flights under 2.5 hours. The climate convention had called for banning flights under 4 hours. Nevertheless, this news marks a step forward — another example of the power of diverse groups of ordinary citizens to both set the agenda and propose real solutions. Citizens’ assemblies can and should be trusted to lead the way, especially where traditional politicians, political parties, and elections have failed. The 150-person convention, whose goal was to find ways of reducing emissions by at least 40% by 2030, had observed in its report that domestic flights account for 4% of all French transportation emissions.
Former OECD expert and DemocracyNext Founder and CEO Claudia Chwalisz said: “Another success for the French Citizens’ Assembly on climate! Short domestic flights are largely an activity of the super-rich and their private jets, and banning them had to overcome significant opposition. What this shows is that citizens’ assemblies are able to make sound policy choices where politicians, encumbered by loyalties to donors and short-term thinking, often cannot. Policy proposals by ordinary citizens can and should become the basis of new laws and regulations, for the benefit of society and the planet.”