Switzerland: railway or aviation nation? Emission saving potential from replacing air by train travel between Switzerland and Europe and the possibilities for the Swiss government to foster this mode shift.
Abstract: Even though flying is the most unsustainable mode of transport due to its high contribution to global climate change (global warming), it is widely used and is predicted to increase considerably in the future. This goes against the global goal to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emission in order to reach the two-degree target set in the Paris Agreement. I am addressing this problem by looking into the emission-saving potential (ESP) from a mode shift from air travel to train travel on connections between Switzerland and Europe. In a second step, I use the multi-level perspective (MLP) framework to analyze how this mode-shift can be achieved and how the Swiss government can foster it. I use flight data to calculate the emission saving potential and academic and grey literature to do the MLP-analysis. I found that the ESP of such a mode shift is high. Annually 7.8 million tonnes CO2e could be saved when replacing all air travel from Switzerland to Europe where train travel is available. If all air travel where train connections exist that are faster than 16 hours would be replaced, 4.8 tonnes CO2e could be saved per year. The current climate movement is likely to open a window of opportunity for such a mode-shift to happen. The Swiss elections coming up in October of 2019 are most likely going to bring a significant rise in seats for the green parties. This makes the changes needed to support a mode-shift more likely. These are the introduction of the VAT on international flight tickets and the flight ticket tax, the expansion of the night train network and support for innovations to improve online booking for international train travel.
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