Norway’s Green Party wants personal flight quotas to reduce air travel demand

Apr 22, 2021

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With national elections coming up in the fall, the Green Party of Norway is pitching a series of radical proposals that take square aim at an aviation industry still mired in a pandemic-induced slump.

The initiatives include personal flight quotas, emphasising train travel by replacing domestic flights with rail routes, eliminating advertising for local flights and even getting rid of duty-free shopping at airports in an effort to combat the climate crisis.

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The most controversial proposal is the personal flight quota. It would set a cap on the number of flights a Norwegian could take each year.

A person’s geographic location and socio-economic factors would be taken into consideration to determine a quota, as people who live in more remote areas are more reliant on air travel. There would also be a barter system in play, where someone could potentially buy unused flights from someone else. It was not immediately clear how, or if, the flight quota would apply to foreign visitors.

The centre-left group also wants Norway to emphasize trains over planes. Taking a cue from France’s recent decision to ban ultra-short-haul flights, the Green Party (Miljøpartiet de Grønn) is calling on the Norwegian government to make a greater investment in high-speed rail to provide an environmentally friendlier option to aeroplanes.

There is already momentum for switching to electric planes, but the commercial viability of those planes is still years away. However, train travel isn’t such an easy alternative. Norway is a sprawling country with mountainous terrain. Building a high-speed rail network would be extraordinarily costly and challenging. Right now, most Norwegian long-haul train travel is on single tracks, which limits capacity and speed. Taking a train from the capital city Oslo to Norway’s next three biggest cities takes six hours, as opposed to around 40 minutes by plane.

In addition to the flight quota, the Green Party is pushing to ban advertising for domestic flights. The idea appears to be that cutting out advertising and marketing would reduce interest in flying those routes.

The Green Party is also calling to ban duty-free shopping at Norwegian airports. This is also seen as a move to disinterest travellers from flying, but would be a huge cut to a major revenue source for airports.

Right now, these ideas are just that — ideas. But as the election nears and candidates fight for the attention of voters, it will be interesting to see if the Green Party’s plan to overhaul air travel in Norway gains greater support.

Featured photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

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