Today’s Solutions: January 25, 2022

We all know flights are terrible for the environment, but if you need to travel across the world and you don’t have a couple of months to spare, then a flight seems like the most sensible option to make it to your destination. But if you need to get somewhere within your own country, then there’s actually no excuse for you to travel via airplane. At least, that’s what Germany’s Green Party is saying.

The party, which happens to be the largest green political body in Europe, wants to cut down on the environmental impact of the airline industry—and to do that, the Green Party is proposing that Germany should work to make domestic flights obsolete by 2035. Germany certainly makes an interesting case study for the potential of junking domestic flights. It’s not a small country by European standards—it’s a little smaller than Montana—but its major cities are far enough from each other that flying can be a plausible alternative to rail.

16 percent of the country’s flights are to domestic destinations. But the distances are also short enough that flights can equally be judged to not be essential. When it comes to travel times, trains and planes compete pretty closely on most major German routes; the current cut-off point after which trains are slower than planes is somewhere around four hours and sometimes as much as five.

This has much to do with the slowing down of airport procedures like security checks and boarding processes. But with added investments in line to upgrade railways, the eco-friendly train could easily become the fastest choice from border to border. So while the Green Party’s proposal to ban domestic flights might seem a bit outlandish, it actually makes a lot of sense—both financially and environmentally.

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