There are alternatives to the high-speed trains!

By: Thomas Ström 4/14/16

Improve the domestic flights and invest in green fossil-free fuel


There are a lot of people talking about high-speed trains these days.
I wonder why there are so few highlighting the importance of developing our domestic flights?
A well-functioning air transport is crucial for jobs and growth throughout the country.
If the development could also be done with green and largely fossil-free fuels, with less negative impact on the environment – that would be fantastic.

There is no doubt that Stockholm is the economic engine of Sweden. But the capital city cannot manage without the rest of Sweden. In order to take advantage of the expertise and talent available across the country, the capital needs quick and easy connections with the whole kingdom. It is not enough to have functioning communications with Malmö and Gothenburg.

But if the aviation is to be developed, it needs to reduce its emissions. I recently took part of a document where UN’s international climate panel estimated that aviation accounts for approximately two percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. With biofuels and more modern aircrafts, the emissions of fossil carbon dioxide could be half of that in 10 years. In extension, this could mean that we have a completely fossil-free domestic flight in 15-20 years.

Over the years, Sweden has been recognized as a pioneer within several areas. If we also develop a fossil-free fuel for flights, our position will be further strengthened.
What if the state, in accordance with a pulp and paper producer, would build a manufacturing plant for biofuels at home? If the production chain is maintained in Sweden, the development and production will create many new green jobs and export opportunities.

If we want to kick-start the development towards a Swedish fossil-free domestic flight, our politicians need to take the lead.
One idea would be if they set goals that promote investment and development of a greener aviation in Sweden. If a green conversion is possible, there must be access to bio fuels to a competitive price. For example – there are residues from the forestry and pulp industry in Scandinavia which would make excellent raw material. It is both sustainable and locally produced.

Nevertheless, building a large-scale production surely is a major investment. These investments will not happen unless there is a large enough demand and politically clear rules of play.

Another thought would be if the politicians could apply emissions ceilings to the government’s own travels by domestic flights. Today, Sweden’s largest buyers of domestic flights are the municipal, the state and the counties. If an emissions ceiling would be put on these flights, the development of a greener aviation would be encouraged. Also, the demand on biofuel would increase.

Another point would be if the state covered the difference in price between fossil fuel and biofuel. This could ultimately be the start signal needed for the companies who are reluctant when it comes to investing in a large-scale Swedish production of biofuel.

Considering this background, it is not difficult to realize that domestic flights are a great alternative to high-speed trains.