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Allons Enfants, et Prendre le Train
Tom Finnerty • 30 May, 2023 • 2 Min Read
That's what the TGV is for.
This just in from France: The government of Emmanuel Macron has decided to ban all flights in their territory which could reasonably (in the government's estimation) be replaced by a train ride. Pourquoi? To save the planet! Naturellement! From a report by Ari Blaff:
Flights that can be covered in under two-and-a-half hours by an equivalent train ride will no longer be allowed to operate in France. “This is an essential step and a strong symbol in the policy of reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” the country’s Transportation Minister, Clement Beaune, said in a statement following the announcement on Tuesday. “As we fight relentlessly to decarbonize our lifestyles, how can we justify the use of the plane between the big cities which benefit from regular, fast and efficient connections by train,” the official added.
This represents a scaled back version of the plan that Macron had originally proposed -- he wanted all flights of four hours or less banned -- and thus far only three routes have been affected. And both industry and environmental groups are saying that this is essentially a stunt which will have limited environmental benefits (the industry groups are arguing that this means the policy should be revealed, while the environmental ones mean it doesn't go far enough).
Consequently the ridiculous tone of the announcement, with its grandiose and ultimately pointless government demands, called to mind this scene from the classic Woody Allen comedy, Bananas, in which the Castro-esque General Esposito has just seized power of the fictional banana republic of San Marco:
"Power has driven him mad" is right. All French presidents seem to model themselves on Napoleon, but Macron seems to have his eye on the Nappy of British caricature. Short and vain, autocratic and ridiculous, he's only in his current position because of the incompetence of hisopponents.
While this policy itself won't sink Macron and his cronies -- it won't even be as big of black eye as Gilets Jaunes protests, another result of overweening environmentalist policies -- it does expose their fundamental lack of seriousness. In any event, heaven help international travelers trying to catch a connecting flight to Bordeaux or Lyons while this ban is in place.