Proposal: Sustainable Global Travel Policies
From: ViNO (Finish Young Greens)
The possibility to travel easily and with an affordable price has partially made the globalisation possible. Although Internet and other modern technologies provide almost endless opportunities for intercultural communication, easy travelling and live meetings are a very essential part of it. Globalization as a process has been as well as essential and unavoidable also enriching and congenial, but the traffic solutions enabling it should be profoundly rethought.
Up to now global travelling has mainly been concentrating on flight traffic, which is the least climate-friendly form of travelling as it produces also other toxic greenhouse gases in addition to only carbon dioxide. World’s oil reserves are almost finished, thus in the long run traffic solutions based on oil consumption are in no means sustainable.
There is a strong need not only to globally concentrate on developing other forms of traffic but to stop favouring flight traffic as well. Flight traffic is favoured in several ways, the most striking being the tax-subsidies it gets. In most countries flight companies don’t pay taxes for the fuel they use. The situation should immediately be changed with the ultimate goal being a decision to tax the flight fuel on United Nations level. Before that there should be climate taxes on kerosene on the level of European Union and other unions alike. The tax would enable the external costs of flight traffic – damage caused by accidents, damage to the nature and scenery, noise pollution etcetera – to finally be included in the ticket prices at least to some extent. At the moment they are left to be paid from public funds.
The strong favouring of flight traffic makes it more difficult to develop other means of traffic, especially railways. To make a real shift from air to rail tracks, the railway sector should be subsidized and competition in railway service production should be allowed when considered carefully. Also the development of electric cars should be speeded up and promoted efficiently.
However, the most important factor in traffic policies is to diminish the need to travel. Global organs like EU or UN should seriously start using the wide range of possibilities provided by the Internet, for example web conferences, and carefully consider the necessity of live meetings. The necessary live meetings should be concentrated in places with good railway connections. There will always be a need for flying between the continents, but otherwise changing the traffic culture can substantially diminish the need to fly.