German government employees increased air travel in 2019 | News | DW | 02.08.2020

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German government employees increased air travel in 2019

German government employees flew more often in 2019 than in 2018, according to a new report. The bulk of travel was short-haul domestic trips from Berlin — a reveal that runs contrary to calls to curb carbon emissions.

German federal government employees and civil servants traveled by plane 10% more in 2019 than the year before, newspaper Welt am Sonntag reported on Sunday, citing data from the Environment Ministry.

Federal government employees took a total of 265,823 individual flights in 2019, compared to 238,607 in 2018.

The data was released by the German Environment Ministry in response to a parliamentary inquiry filed by the country’s business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP).

The 2019 figures, however, were lower than those seen in 2017, when federal employees took 276,189 flights.

The numbers do not include flights made by Germany’s air force. 

The number of short-haul flights — which have been criticized by climate activists for being particularly bad for the environment — went up by 12% last year to 204,692. The number of medium- and long-haul flights also increased. 

In total, people employed by the German state traveled just under 386 million kilometers (240 million miles) by air in 2019, up from 350 million done the year before. 

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Majority of flights could be done by train

These flights produced carbon dioxide emissions totaling around 213,942 tons, according to Welt am Sonntag

To compensate for the 2019 emissions, Germany purchased an estimated €1.7 million ($2 million) in CO2 certificates via the European Union’s (EU) Emission Trading Scheme, which allows for the buying and trading of emissions allowances within the bloc. 

One reason for the high number of domestic flights is that many German government authorities have locations in both Berlin, Germany’s capital, and Bonn, the former capital of West Germany — located in the country’s west. 

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This route has accounted for a significant number of employee flights in recent years, the ministry said. 

Critics have said that these flights could be avoided with better train connections. Currently, it takes at least 5.5 hours to go between Berlin and Bonn by train. 

Chancellor Angela Merkel has previously warned of the dangers of climate change, saying "all that is humanly possible" must be done to stop it. 

kp/stb (AFP, dpa)

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