The increasingly popular Green Party of Norway is targeting air travel as part of its goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 95% by 2035. Set to substantially increase its seats in the Norwegian parliament in the upcoming September elections, the party is calling for domestic routes to be replaced by trains and for the introduction of individual flight quotas.
Perhaps inspired by the French government’s move to ban domestic flights where a train connection is available in under two and a half hours, Norway’s Green Party (MDG) is taking a swing at the country’s airlines and flying habits. Cuts to short-haul flights and personal quotas for trips are unlikely to go down well in some sectors.
Location to be taken into consideration
An individual’s flight quota would take into account socio-economic factors as well as geographic location, the party says. Due to the country’s geography, many areas lack alternative ground transportation, making the rural population especially dependent on air travel.
Topping the party’s candidate list in Stavanger, a city that revolves around the oil industry, is Ulrikke Torgersen. She says that people living in hard-to-reach areas would be granted higher quotas than urban dwellers.
The party also believes there is less need for business travel as companies have grown accustomed to remote regimens during the past year.
“We see that the business community is able to adapt with more use of digital meetings,” Torgersen said as reported by Forbes.
Rail connections hampered by geography
The party is yet to share specific details of the plan, but signals that it wants to invest in rail infrastructure solutions. However, this is a big ask given the country’s mountainous terrain and single-rail system. For instance, train travel to Bergen and Trondheim from Oslo is over six and seven hours, while planes cover the distance in under an hour.
As far as individual air quotas go, it is unclear whether or not they would apply to both international and domestic services – or how many flights per person it would deem reasonable. Nor has the party provided any more information on how such a proposition would affect Norwegian citizens who are residents abroad.
The Norwegian Green Party is also calling for a ban on advertising for domestic routes and a stop to international duty-free sales at Norwegian international airports.
Should aviation be the key focus?
While aviation undoubtedly needs to play its part in the battle against climate change, regulating airlines has become a popular political move to appease environmentally conscious voters.
Compared to aviation and even transportation as a whole, agriculture, food retail, and the fashion industry are all bigger polluters. Still, no lawmaker has yet to seriously suggest individual limitations on shopping or food waste. Even within the transportation sector, air travel only accounts for 16% of passenger emissions, with land-based travel making up the majority.
MDG has been on an upward trajectory over the past few years. The party currently holds one seat in Norway’s unicameral parliament. However, according to recent polls, if Norway held elections today, the Green Party would win ten out of the 169 available. The exact demands it will make to provide its support to the government will look like remains to be seen.