Report from seminar in the European Parliament on March 19, 2019

The seminar was organized by the British parliamentarians Molly Scott Carto from the Greens and Lucy Anderson from Labour. Their main focus was the need to reduce air traffic and the failure of the EU to do so.

Mira Kapfinger from Stay grounded took part via internet and made a good presentation showing the need for reduction of air traffic and the false solutions proposed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in their plan CORSIA like continued growth of air traffic with biofuel and offsetting.

Andrew Murphy from Transport and Environment made it very clear that what has been called the biggest achievement of the EU – the deregulation of air traffic in reality is their worst climate failure. He proposed that the EU must support member countries and groups of member countries to introduce airplane taxes. He also criticized EU to outsource the climate change responsibility to ICAO and CORSIA. He stressed the fact that there was much progress in the EU climate strategy for 2050, compared to the 2025 strategy : it now includes aviation, relies less on ICAO, and considers pricing strategies.

Peter Paul Vassepoel from Summer without flying in Belgium presented their campaign to change values and there was big interest to make this campaign also in other countries. Stay grounded will already launch a campaign in the coming months.

Nicolas Forien from Back on Track presented the need for night trains and the situation in different countries. He showed that night trains are often better and always cheaper than high speed rail.

Giorgio Travaine from Shift2rail presented their work with technical improvements to make rail more competitive like special space in the cities in the morning, and more standardized rolling stock.

Keir Fitch from the European Commission made a weak impression, saying that they can promote trains but not work against air traffic. He talked again about the 4th railway package from 2016 but presented no new promises.

In the discussion Molly Scott Cato asked for concrete proposals and here is a list of things that were mentioned:

Marketing: use 20% of space on adverts (billboards etc.) linked to use of fossil fuels/aviation to include climate impact information

  • further ideas:
    • review of carbon-intensive marketing
    • ban aviation adverts
  • No fly-pledges from commission and parliament staff / MEPs, especially for Brussels-Strasbourg travel
  • European booking system for trains
  • mystery shopper research
    • assess what difficulties people face (dependent on their geographical, economic situation) if they wish to travel without flying
      • where can they go without flying, do they have a feasible alternative?
      • identify factors that prevent flight-free travel
  • Frequent flyer levy
    • taxable benefit
  • company carbon budget
  • create aviation manifesto for EP elections if not already done so
  • launch communications campaign around UEFA Euro 2020, which will be held in 12 cities all across Europe
  • challenge travel policies in public institutions – they should take ecological aspects into account, not just price
  • support local aviation resistance groups and make sure that these groups are not being played out against each other by third actors (connect!)

After the seminar some of us made an action outside of the canteen in the parliament handling out flyers with proposals from Back on Track and Stay grounded.

There was a lot of positive energy for change both in the seminar and at the action and we felt strong and more united to continue together.

2 thoughts on “Report from seminar in the European Parliament on March 19, 2019”

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  3. Susanna Berger says:

    The easiest way to promote the use of long distance travel on trains (the mode of travel consuming least energy) would be to tax each km of air travel plus each take-off and landing (particularly bad for the environment), via the current airport tax system, and use this to invest in night trains.
    Private companies could be invited to tender for long distance, cross border routes, providing everything from couchettes to private sleepers.
    This only requires political will

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