MindBullets 20 Years

Ready, Set, STOP!

EU announces travel ban to save the climate

The northern hemisphere’s record-breaking heatwaves this past summer continue to claim casualties. Many of the Pacific and Indian Ocean island states have started to call in the pledges from surrounding nations and are now actively relocating their citizens to drier and cooler lands.

Sub-Saharan Africa is battling relentless waves of drought and floods while trying to feed its ever-growing population. In Europe, climate refugees from north Africa and Asia are pouring in, sparking violent social unrest and widespread mass protests.

The stage is set for major drama during next week’s Council of Europe Ministers meeting, scheduled to start on Tuesday night with a social dinner hosted by the French President. One of the more controversial items on the agenda that is threatening to rip the EU apart, is the “Travel Ban for the Climate” proposal, mooted by hardliners within the EU Parliament as the only way to reach the +1.5 degree Celsius climate goal. Climate scientists and the Global South (who are bearing the brunt of climate change) are all supporting the proposal, while top tourism destinations are firmly against it.

The concept is simple but incendiary: Ban all leisure travel for the next 15 years; only allow essential work travel; move all goods traffic to trains and EV trucks; and ban all cruise ships from entering European territorial waters, unless they’re sail-and-solar hybrids. That it will give the Earth a chance to recover and get back into balance, all agree, but the societal cost for the developed world will be ginormous, as the economic activity pushed away will probably never return.

With government overreach, and the implementation of arbitrary rules and Covid-19 lockdowns still fresh in their memory, EU citizens are already rebelling. They question who should approve travel requests, and on what basis, and point to darker times in European history when people’s movements were controlled by the state.

On the positive side are the results from France’s ban on short haul flights that have reduced pollution and revitalized the rail travel industry, though airlines and aircraft companies’ fortunes have plunged.

The media are anticipating an explosive session, and we can expect to see a flurry of compromises and tradeoffs coming out of next week’s meeting. But if you’re planning the holiday of a lifetime this festive season, get ready to stop!

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