Tuesday, December 6

Hundreds of activists protest at airports in eleven countries against private jets: “We are in danger of extinction”


One sitting in front of a private plane in the Netherlands, scientists chained to the gates of an airfield in North Carolina or a barricade at the entrance to Farnborough airport in the United Kingdom. Hundreds of activists, including 129 scientists, have carried out a coordinated action at airports in eleven countries to call for a ban on private planes and an increase in fees for frequent flyers to finance the damage caused by climate change in the most vulnerable countries. .

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The protest action, coordinated by the environmental organizations Scientist Rebellion and Extinction Rebellion, took place between Thursday and Saturday of last week. Activists staged blockades and non-violent protests of various kinds on Thursday at the private airports of Farnborough and London Luton, in the United Kingdom; at airfields in Berlin, Milan, Stockholm, Stockholm and Ibiza; as well as in Teterboro, in the state of New Jersey, in Charlotte, in North Carolina, and in Los Angeles and Seattle, in the United States. There were also protests on Saturday in Melbourne, Australia; Trondheim, in Norway; Cascais, in Portugal and in front of the Paris headquarters of Dassault, the third largest private jet manufacturer in the world.



That day, the most important protest took place, coordinated between these organizations and Greenpeace. Dozens of activists managed to sneak into the premises of the private Schiphol airfield in Amsterdam and sat in front of the wheels of a jet parked on the runway, causing their departure to be delayed for several hours. More than 100 activists were arrested, according to local media. The police had to remove the protesters in buses.

“We are in danger of extinction,” warned the researcher Gianluca Grimalda, upon being arrested after participating in the Milan protests. “Societies must go into emergency mode to avoid a climate catastrophe. This includes reducing the capricious emissions of economic elites, who have a much larger carbon footprint than the rest, ”he later stated in statements collected by the organization’s statement. “It is unacceptable that the super-rich continue to circle the globe in their planes while millions suffer the disastrous impacts of climate change,” he added.

In total, according to the organizers, during the protests these days some 200 people have been involved, including 129 activists, and more than 31 have been arrested (removing those from the Amsterdam protest). The actions were varied. In some cases, they chained themselves to front doors, taped to doors and windows, or set off fire alarms, according to information released by Extinction Rebellion. They also served as performances artistic, like in Ibiza, where they put on a play about the arrogance of the richest people on the planet.



The protests are part of an international campaign called ‘Make them pay’ (Force them to pay), which takes place within the framework of the UN Climate Summit, COP27, which is being held these days in Sharm el Sheikh, in Egypt . The campaign aims to send world leaders the demand to ban private flights, which, they denounce, “consume 10 times more energy per passenger than commercial flights or 50 times more than those traveling by train.”

They also ask for more fees on frequent flyers. “These taxes would help eliminate emissions and force those who travel the most to contribute to compensation policies for damages to the countries most vulnerable to climate emergencies. [que estos días se debaten en la COP]”, the organizations explain in a note.

“We need more scientists and more people from civil society involved in these actions of disobedience. Right now people don’t need scientists to know that until we phase out fossil fuels the summers are going to get hotter and we’re at risk of losing everything,” says Peter Kalmus, a climate scientist arrested for participating in the airport blockade. from North Carolina.



According to the organization’s data, airplanes represent the pinnacle of climate injustice. “Only 1% of the world’s population produces half of the emissions generated by aviation, while 80% have never been on a plane,” says Finlay Asher, concerned about the unprecedented increase in sales of private planes in the recent months: “It means that we are failing in our economic and climate justice policies.”



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