Reclaim the Power #staygrounded die-in flashmob at Heathrow against runway, and Critical Mass cycle ride
Two spectacular “Stay Grounded” protests took place at Heathrow, against a possible third runway. Both were organised by Reclaim the Power, which is a grassroots organisation taking action with local communities on environmental, economic and social justice issues. The protests at Heathrow were against aviation expansion, partly due to its carbon emissions and also local air pollution, and to highlight the social injustice of climate change impacts around the world. Hundreds of activists staged a “die-in” flashmob in Heathrow’s Terminal 2, and there was a Critical Mass bike ride of about 150 risers wearing red, which circled the area, visiting Harmondsworth Detention Centre and Longford village, and briefly obstructing traffic by circling the main roundabout on Bath Road. The “die-in” involved over 100 people, many of whom wore masks to symbolise the pollution from aviation. Testimonies from communities already affected by climate change were read out, including from Pacific islands that are suffering from sea level rise. Street theatre at the protest showed high income frequent fliers, checking in and drinking champagne (being critical of the “irresponsible” environmental protesters ….) There was also a flashmob action at Gatwick, and others as part of a global wave of actions opposing airport expansion (including Austria, France, Mexico, Turkey), timed to coincide with the major ICAO conference aiming to address the emissions impact of aviation.
Hundreds at Heathrow ‘die-in’ protest against airport expansion
1.10.2016 (Reclaim the Power press release)
Hundreds of activists stage ‘die-in’ and disruptive ‘critical mass’ bike ride at Heathrow to protest aviation expansion and highlight injustice of climate change impacts.
This afternoon, over 100 people took part in a ‘die-in’ flashmob inside Heathrow terminal 2. Protesters wearing gas masks lay on the floor, as testimonies from communities already affected by climate change were read .
The protesters also set up a ‘Frequent-fliers-high-polluters club’ stand with champagne in the airport: RECLAIM THE POWER The ‘VIP check in’
One of the “frequent fliers” stepping over the “dead” to get to the check-in and his champagne. The actors were so realistic, in their loud and disparaging comments about the protesters, and their dismissal of their climate claims, that allegedly, some of the staff presumed they were real passengers, and agreed with them ….
Simultaneously, a ‘critical mass’ bike ride with 150 riders wearing red  circled the area, visiting Harmondsworth Detention Centre to highlight the link between climate impacts and migration, and obstructing traffic by circling the main roundabout on Bath Road and dropping banners.
The action was part of a global wave of actions opposing airport expansion (including Austria, France, Mexico, Turkey), timed to coincide with a major UN conference aiming to address the emissions impact of aviation. The process has received criticism for not attempting to reduce emissions, instead focussing on controversial ‘carbon offsets’.
A ‘flash-mob’ picnic protest also happened at Gatwick this morning.
The decision on airport expansion is expected on the 11th or 18th October; with recent reports suggesting there is parliamentary support for Heathrow.
The Critical Mass cycle ride sets off
Maya Adams, a spokesperson for Reclaim the Power, said:
‘Expanding airports is completely irresponsible and will bring us out of reach of our own targets to stop climate change. This problem isn’t be caused by business or normal families taking a holiday, but a wealthy elite ‘binge flying’, often to second homes. Yet it’s poorer countries that are the hardest hit by climate change, even though they have done the least to cause the problem. Expanding Heathrow is incompatible with creating a fairer and more equal world.When governments fail us, when international UN bodies that are meant to be dealing with these problems fail us, it’s time for normal people to take a stand.People power has defeated this runway before, and it’ll defeat it again. The Tory election pledge in 2010 was ‘no ifs, no buts, no third runway’, and we intend to hold them to that.We can build new runways, or we can honour our legally binding climate commitments. We can’t do both.’
James Gibson, a spokesperson for Reclaim the Power outside Harmondsworth Detention Centre said:
‘Increasing droughts, floods and natural disasters caused by climate change destroy homes and livelihoods forcing people to migrate – the very same people that the UK government is targeting with racist anti-migrant policies and draconian detention centres.Instead of demonising and scapegoating migrants and refugees, the UK government should be cracking down on the big polluters, like airports, who are forcing people to move in the first place.’
Maggie Thorburn, a local resident, said:
“Heathrow expansion plans put forward to increase flights will bring more traffic and hence more pollution. We are fighting to convince Theresa May to remain opposed to Heathrow expansion, which she has been since 2008. I will press on campaigning for the climate and no new runways anywhere.”
- Flying is the most emissions-intensive form of transport and the fastest growing cause of climate change.
- Globally, aviation emissions are forecast to balloon by 300% by 2050.
- This growth is incompatible with UK climate targets as set out in the Climate Change Act 2008.
- The International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO), assembled right now in Montreal, has not proposed any plans so far to limit or reduce the CO2 emissions from aviation.
- Globally, flying benefits a privileged few – only 3-7% of people have flown – and even in the UK a 15% minority of the population take 70% of flights. In contrast, the damaging impacts of aviation are experienced by everyone – climate change will affect the entire world population but is hitting some of the poorest, most vulnerable areas (where people do not fly) first and worst.
- The aviation industry enjoys a number of tax breaks: most substantially there is no duty on aircraft fuel or VAT on tickets, a ‘major anomaly’ according to the World Bank and IMF. This money could be invested in sustainable transport, in improving rail connections around the UK and internationally.
- A large proportion of Heathrow flights are short haul, these routes could be better, and more sustainably, serviced by improved rail infrastructure. Past experience shows this: since the Eurostar has been running the number of flights from London to Paris and Brussels has fallen dramatically (by nearly half and a third, respectively).
- If Heathrow expands, it would be responsible for more emissions than any other single site in the UK, including Drax the UK’s largest power station.
- In July 2015 the Davies Report recommended building a third runway at Heathrow airport.
- In July 2016 London City airport was given the go-ahead for expansion to accommodate larger aircraft and more traffic.
- The decision on a new runway at a London airport is expected in October; Theresa May announced 29/09 that there was cabinet support for Heathrow.
- The UN body for the aviation industry is meeting between 26th Sept – 7th Oct for the World Aviation Forum, and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Assembly. They will be pushing for Carbon Offsets to be used as a market mechanism to make aviation ‘sustainable’.
- Around the world, international anti-aviation expansion movements will be taking action around the same time: https://reclaimthepower.org.uk/aviation-flashmob-critical-mass/global-actions/
Notes to editor:
- Testimonies were read from people in the Pacific Islands and Horn of Africa. Full text found here.
- The red represents the red lines for climate change that aviation expansion crosses, and a meme used in previous demonstrations, including at the Paris climate summit
- The #StayGrounded protest was organised by Reclaim the Power, a grassroots direct action network taking action for social and environmental justice. Previous actions include high profile anti-fracking camp in Balcombe in 2013 and mass occupation of the UK’s largest open-cast coal mine, Ffos-y-fran earlier in 2016.
Reclaim the Power is a grassroots organising network for taking direct action on environmental, economic and social justice issues, working in solidarity with affected communities.
Heathrow Airport ‘Mass Die-In’ Protests Against Climate Impact Of Expansion Plans
‘Hundreds’ also rode in the campaign’s ‘cycling blockade’.
01/10/2016 (Huffington Post)
By Louise Ridley – Assistant news editor
Hundreds of people have ‘dropped dead’ at London’s Heathrow airport in a series of mass demonstrations against climate change and airport expansion.
The protest on Saturday afternoon saw a mass bicycle ‘blockade’ as well as hundreds of activists wearing gas masks lying in a terminal to protest against airport expansion.
The campaigners from the global group Reclaim The Power covered the floor of a section of the terminal, wearing masks “to highlight the climate and pollution impacts of aviation”.
The ‘Stay Grounded’ action is calling for no new runways or expansion of aviation capacity anywhere in the UK, and for the industry to be bound by climate change regulations.
Reclaim the Power is calling for a tax on frequent flyers to fund greater investment in ‘climate-friendly’ transport.
Some spoke to passengers about the effects of climate change and air travel, while a simultaneous ‘critical mass’ bike ride took place around the airport.
The group is sharing its protest using the hashtags #StayGrounded and #StopAviationExpansion, ahead of the Government’s decision on growing London’s airport capacity this month.
Reclaim the Power said ‘hundreds’ of riders took part in a ride wearing jumpsuits outside the airport to raise awareness of their cause.
The bike ride includes a stop at the nearby Harmondsworth Detention Centre “to highlight the impact of climate change and forced migration,” the demonstrators said.
It told HuffPost UK it would also make use of the ‘red lines’ motif used in other demonstrations to signal that “a livable climate is a red line we’re prepared to defend.”
The action is part of a series of anti-aviation demonstration around the world during the UN’s ICAO conference looking at the emissions impact of air travel.
On Friday morning Theresa May announced that she has enough cabinet support to press ahead with expanding Heathrow airport.
October 1, 2016 (ITN)
Campaigning group Reclaim the Power, which organised the protest, says that plans for a new runway are “devastating for local air quality and for climate change.”
Cyclists dressed in red stood in a line to mark “a red line – airport expansion is a line that must not be crossed to stop climate change”.
Additionally, protesters staged a ‘die in’ inside the airport, where they lay on the floor as busy travelers moved around them.
“Independent analysis by the Airports Commission has found that building and operating an additional runway at Heathrow is compatible with the UK meeting its long-term climate change reduction targets.”