Aug 23, 2022 - World

France mulls regulations on private jets

private jet
A private jet is seen at the Nice Cote d'Azur Airport in France. Photo: Jeremy Suyker/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesPhoto: Jeremy Suyker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Restrictions on the use of private jets in France may be on the horizon after Transport Minister Clément Beaune floated the idea of further regulations on the European level.

Why it matters: Private jet use surged during the pandemic despite the copious amounts of CO2 these flights emit.

  • Transport & Environment, a European NGO, estimates an hourlong flight in a private jet can emit roughly a fourth of the average European's annual emissions, Axios' Ben Gemen writes.
  • Roughly a tenth of all departure flights in France in 2019 were by private jets, half of which flew fewer than 300 miles, according to The Times.

State of play: Beaune told French newspaper Le Parisien this weekend that private jet flights should be restricted due to their contribution to climate change and noted their use could not be tolerated as before when everyday French people have been asked to make sacrifices to save energy and combat climate change.

  • “Certain types of behavior are no longer acceptable,” Beaune told Le Parisien.
  • “We have to act to regulate flights on private jets. There can’t be a means of individual travel for comfort at a time when the president’s campaign requires everyone to make an effort," he added.
  • While an outright ban is not on the cards, Beaune said potential measures could include increased taxation or bans for flights to destinations well-served by railways.
  • Beaune said acting on the European level would be more impactful and plans to push for further action at a meeting of EU transport ministers in October.

What they're saying: Government spokesperson Olivier Véran reiterated during an appearance on France Inter radio on Tuesday that while no total ban would occur, restrictions on private jets would signal that the same rules apply to all.

  • "It has symbolic value, and symbols are important," he said.
  • "The French should not have the feeling that it is always the same people who are asked to make an effort, that is to say, the working and middle classes," Véran said.

Julien Bayou, leader of the French Green Party, called for a total ban on private jets last week.

  • "It’s the measure that would penalize the smallest number of people for the biggest and most immediate impact in favor of the climate,” he told a French newspaper, the Financial Times reported.

The big picture: Last August, the EU moved to increase spending for private flights for top officials.

  • A number of Twitter accounts launched in recent years are dedicated to tracking and shaming the private jet flights of rich people and celebrities.
  • One, I Fly Bernard, has more than 60,000 followers and tracks the private jet of LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault, one of the richest men in the world.
  • German CDU leader Friedrich Merz landed in hot water last month for using a private jet to attend German Finance Minister Christian Lindner's wedding.
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