we explain how in an infographic

Can we really travel without emitting too much CO2? The answer is yes according to the Shift Project, which has just published its new report on the long-distance mobility of the French, a sector with 90% carbon. But to reduce these emissions by 5% per year until 2050, technological progress is not enough. We must also change the way we travel, and in particular to take the train.

“Betting only on technological proposals increases the risks of not being able to travel in the decades to come”, announces the new “Low Carbon Travel” report by the Shift Project, the objective of which is to reduce CO2 emissions by 5% per year until 2050. Electric car, hydrogen, biofuels, the technooptimist scenario, which is based solely on technical improvements, will not be enough according to the think tank.

As for biofuels, to meet the current air travel needs of the French, it would be necessary to cultivate the equivalent of three French departments. Hydrogen, another highly anticipated innovation, has no place in long-haul flights because of its heavy batteries. In addition, producing hydrogen requires electricity, a resource already heavily used by electric cars and other sectors such as housing or industry.

It’s a race against time!”exclaims Béatrice Jarrige, Long Distance Mobility project manager for the Shift Project. “We relied on technologies that were already mature, but not used today. Experts agree that new, more efficient aircraft will not be ready until 2040.” explains the person responsible for the report.

A resilient scenario

Should we stop traveling? Not in the resilient scenario, which proposes dividing the energy requirement for long-distance mobility by 1.7, by referring to the least carbon-intensive modes of transport. In this scenario, the train would be used three times more, replacing 30% of car journeys and half of short-haul flights. Long-haul flights are replaced in a third of cases by closer trips, in Europe, which can be made by train. But to change habits, the train must be made attractive. To do this, new local tourism offers need to be invented. Local mobility must develop, with for example more possibilities for cycling and renting cars locally.

“Some of our measures make it possible to have results from the next five-year period, while others must be initiated quickly to have multiplier effects in the following five-year periods”, declares the Shift Project. The first measures requested are reducing the speed of cars, training in eco-driving and limiting air travel for business trips. The report also proposes the creation of a tourism carbon governance structure involving stakeholders in the field. Finally, the gradual electrification of all cars, the creation of a “sober car” ideal and the “the regeneration of the railway network” are waiting.

Fanny Breuneval

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