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Mbappe sparks private jet debate: Is it time for footballers to travel by train?

They laughed at such a serious proposal in the midst of the climate crisis as replacing airplanes with short-haul trains. Images of Paris Saint-Germain player Kylian Mbappe and his coach Christophe Gaultier have gone viral and sparked a wave of backlash in France, focusing on the disproportionate role of private jets commonly used by athletes. and celebrities, in global pollution. A debate led by a neighboring country that has not yet reached Spain, where football clubs also frequently use aviation.

The controversy erupted at a press conference last Monday when a journalist asked members of PSG why the team used a plane to play a game, traveling from Paris to Nantes, some 380 kilometers away. Neither the attacker nor Galtier could hold back their laughter as the latter retaliated violently. “We’ll see if we can go for a drive,” he said. The question came After the comment of the director of TGVThe company that runs high-speed trains in France offered the team a train, much less polluting, for “less than two hours” of travel on this type of railway.

Responses in the country did not take long. Not only did environmental organizations and groups criticize the mockery of Mbappé and his coach, it also angered several members of the French government. Prime Minister Elisabeth Bourne called on players to be “fully aware” of the climate crisis, while Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera reprimanded Galtier for a response that was not “responsible”. The transition minister for the environment, as well as the minister of economy and finance, Bruno Le Maire, also entered the case, calling for “all of us to take climate change seriously”.

The issue has practically become a matter of state in France, as it coincides with an open debate in the country on the relevance of private aviation regulation, which the country’s transport minister, Clement Bonn, has championed.

A few days earlier, NGO Attac pointed to another PSG player, Argentinian Leo Messi, whom it accused of taking 52 flights in his private jet since last June, emitting “1,502 tonnes of CO2”, “as much as the French in 150 years”. “. Celebrity Jets Twitter account Monitors private jet flights of celebrities, especially in the United States. Among them, the singer Drake, the rapper Travis Scott or the screenwriter Steven Spielberg, and in most cases they are short transfers of less than an hour.

Traveling this way is one of the sources of CO2 emissions that hides the most inequality: it’s a small group of people who contribute to climate change by emitting large amounts of gas while flying. “In times of climate urgency, with the need for consistency and reduced fuel consumption, private aviation is a folly that doesn’t fit into our daily lives and is justified only in very few cases,” he believes. Adrian. Fernandez, head of mobility at Greenpeace.

According to an analysis by Common Wealth, an organization that advocates banning fossil-fuel-based private flights by 2025 – and replacing them with electricity – “A standard private jet journey within the EU emits ten times more CO2 per passenger than then. This is done on a regular flight.” The non-governmental organization “Transport and Environment” also addressed this issue in a recent report, which concludes that just one hour of private jet flight emits two tons of CO2. For comparison, in 2019, net emissions per citizen in Spain amounted to 5.8 tons.

Figures from the European Environment Agency indicate that transport accounts for around a quarter of the EU’s total emissions, with the vast majority coming from road transport (72%), which is used by the majority of the population. Maritime transport and aviation represent 14% and 13% of emissions respectively, while rail is the most sustainable mode with 0.4% of emissions.

However, in relative terms, the difference in emissions is clear: if the amount of emissions per passenger and kilometer traveled by different means of transport is taken into account, someone who travels by plane with 87 other people pollutes almost three times more than someone who does not. He drives with one other passenger and 20 times more than the second one who uses the train with 155 others. According to the European Agency, a passenger by plane emits 285 grams of CO2 into the atmosphere per kilometer, compared to a person who travels by car. It expels 104 grams and those who travel by train hardly emit 14 grams.

The open debate in France does not seem to be over yet in our country, which the Transport and Environment Organization places fifth in Europe with the highest use of private flights. The first is the United Kingdom and the second is the Gallic country. “This is an issue that not only has to be opened up in Spain, but that it will eventually arrive,” believes Fernández, who calls for an “urgent” reduction in air transport to “achieve climate goals.”

He says this because the European Commission is currently discussing the imposition of a tax on kerosene, which is currently exempt from taxes for all flights within the EU. Still, ecologists and experts call for more ambition: “The best use of aviation is not to use aviation,” says biology doctor and CSIC researcher Fernando Valladares. In his opinion, this means of transport should be cut down as soon as possible, until it is only used as a “last resort”.

The spat between Mbappe and the PSG coach’s laughter has put the world of highly competitive sports in the spotlight, and specifically soccer, a sector that often uses airplanes to play matches. In fact, the French Minister of Transport used a football reference to talk about this topic the day before the press conference. And it was he who pointed to Spanish side Real Betis, who he praised for reaching an agreement with Renfe for a train ride away from home.

It is, at the moment, the only Spanish team that has made the commitment, for which all teams, men and women, have discounts on travel. However, the rail transport company confirmed to this newspaper that it is currently in talks with other First Division clubs to reach similar co-operation agreements, although it did not give further details on which teams are looking at transport alternatives.

That’s not to say they don’t use the train for some sort of outing, but it’s a pioneering arrangement with Betty. asked the first division teams about their mobility criteria and the number of matches for which they travel by plane or train to the peninsula, but did not receive an answer. Clubs have also been criticized for repeatedly also mobilizing their fleet of buses to pick them up at airports and take them to stadiums and travel hundreds of empty kilometers to get to matches.

Agreements with Renfe have been intensified in recent years during the unprecedented climate emergency. According to the company, it has signed about 100 contracts with clubs and federations. For example, in LaLiga Smartbank (second division), Leganes has an agreement like Betis. In addition to football, in basketball, teams such as Unicaja de Málaga or Movistar Estudiantes “use the train to travel around the peninsula”, as well as other rugby and handball teams, which he did not specify.

Most Spanish federations, such as soccer or basketball, as well as the Superior Sports Council, use Renfe for travel, they add. And also in the sporting framework, Renfe is the official transport for mass events such as the Madrid and Malaga marathons, and for other types of entities such as the Madrid Veterans Association.

In French sports, the topic of the week opened another debate: how much of an example should be set by those who are role models for the population. Experts have no doubts. Valladares calls for “zero tolerance” for this type of attitude, and for redress. “The public is looking at them and they’re not lucky enough to pull this prank.” They could have fixed it and they didn’t. The best way to do this is to change your posture and mobilization strategy. In other words, go by public transport,” he notes.

Fernandez of Greenpeace expresses himself along the same lines. “This is dangerous and counterproductive. Although private aviation represents a small emission in relation to the total, it has a very significant weight because it is useless to ask people to change their behavior if they see that those who have a privileged economic position cannot get them and thus. Gestures are squandering any improvements we can try in the rest of society,” he says.

For this reason, organizations and experts are calling for a future that significantly reduces the use of aviation. According to them, its sustainability is a very difficult challenge. “There are not many other ways to use it in emergency situations and situations where emergency use of transport is justified,” asserts Valladares, who predicts that the way we do tourism will also change in a very short time.

What is not clear is whether, for example, the way people travel between countries will change because quota systems are put in place, because of full awareness, or because of extreme increases in fuel prices. “Before they become unaffordable to many, we have to find a way that, even if they can afford it, a lot of people will stop flying.” so clear Voluntary or quota system.

Valladares also believes that it is time to review the scale of airports and refuse any project that aims to expand these types of polluting facilities. “In Barcelona, ​​for example, they are thinking about extending El Prat, and this is not the time. The first thing that should be done is to review any expansion project,” he defends.

Source: El Diario





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