Climate activists target private jet airports, asking that private jet travel is reduced

Protests by groups such as Extinction Rebellion and Scientist Rebellion, in the UK, have staged protests and two of the main airports that serve private jets. There were other protests in the US and in Europe, with several people arrested. Protests took place at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey and also at airports in North Carolina, California and Washington State. In Europe there were protests at Schiphol in the Netherlands, Milan, Stockholm and Trondheim. The carbon emissions per passenger kilometre by users of private jets are perhaps 5-14 times as great as those in premium class seats on conventional jets, and much more than standard class passengers in a modern, full plane. With the severity of climate change becoming ever more apparent, the unnecessarily high carbon emissions by those who choose to fly in private jets are unacceptable.  These flights are not only taken by politicians, eg. attending COP27 in Sharm-el-Sheikh, but often by  the very rich, celebrities etc.  Governments need to clamp down on this unjustifiable burning of jet fuel. 



Climate Activists, Including Scientists, Are Arrested in Protests at Private Airports

The protesters temporarily shut down the main entrance to Teterboro Airport in New Jersey and also picketed at airports in North Carolina, California and Washington State.   Climate activists blocked a private aircraft at Schiphol Airport, in the Netherlands, on Saturday.

By Vimal Patel (The New York Times)
Nov. 10, 2022

More than a dozen protesters, including scientists, were arrested on Thursday at private airports in the United States, coinciding with similar actions around the world to highlight the toll of private jets on the environment, activists said.

The protesters temporarily shut down the main entrance to Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, and also picketed at airports in North Carolina, California and Washington State. They were joined by protesters who took similar actions at 13 other private airports in 12 other countries, activists said.

Climate activists have taken part in several high-profile stunts recently. In October, they flung mashed potatoes on a glass-covered Claude Monet painting, “Grainstacks,” at a German museum. The $111 million painting was not damaged, officials said. Activists in Britain and Italy recently glued themselves to art.

The action on Thursday included climate scientists, a small sign that researchers have become more willing to take a more forceful public stand on climate change given the increasing clarity of the science, said Peter Kalmus, a climate scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab.

“Five years ago, the majority view was that it was unacceptable to be an activist and to speak out if you were a scientist,” he said in an interview late Thursday. “I think the majority view now is you probably should be doing that because the science is so frightening.”

Climate activists block the entrance of the Milano Linate Prime airport in Milan on Thursday.

Dr. Kalmus was arrested on Thursday on a charge of misdemeanor trespassing at a private jet terminal at the Wilson Air Center in Charlotte, N.C. He was among four people, including another scientist, who were arrested as part of the protest at the Charlotte airport, he said. A representative for the airport declined to comment about the matter.

As of late Thursday, a spokeswoman for Scientist Rebellion, a group of scientists who have turned to climate activism, said that at least 16 scientists in the U.S. and a total of 81 worldwide had taken part in the climate actions on Thursday.

In April, Dr. Kalmus was one of roughly 1,000 scientists in 25 countries who blocked traffic and chained themselves to, among other targets, the gates of the White House and doors of bank branches as part of the Scientist Rebellion, one of the groups behind Thursday’s protests.

Dr. Kalmus said he is careful to follow NASA’s rules “scrupulously.” He makes clear that he speaks only for himself, not the agency. On Thursday, he took a personal day from work. He said that he worried about one day having a research grant reviewed by someone wary of his activism, but that he had not faced any repercussions so far.

On Thursday, the protests were aimed primarily at the aviation industry. Scientist Rebellion along with Extinction Rebellion, an affiliated group, said in a news release on Thursday that the sector was “the pinnacle of climate injustice and emissions inequality.”

The effect of aviation on the environment is under scrutiny in the United States and elsewhere. The sector is already considered among the world’s top carbon emitters. Experts say it accounts for about 3 to 4 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

Private jets are estimated to cause 5 to 14 times as much pollution as commercial planes per passenger, and 50 times as much as trains, according to a study published last year by Transport & Environment, a group campaigning for cleaner transportation.

Lenis Valens, a spokeswoman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said that seven people were arrested on charges of trespassing, disorderly conduct and interference with public transportation at the protest at Teterboro, which included 15 to 20 people and blocked the main entrance to the airport. Ms. Valens said that the airport temporarily rerouted employees and customers.

She said that no one was injured in the arrests but that one person who had been glued to a tepee was taken to a hospital.

Activists said that at least 15 people were arrested during the protests at private airports in the United States on Thursday, though that number could not be confirmed. It was not immediately clear how many people were arrested overseas.

Organizers said the goal of the actions was to draw attention to how the “jet-setting life-styles of multi-millionaires and billionaires” are hurting the environment, all while governments are subsidizing the use of private jets.

“It is obscene that Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates can fly their private jets tax free, while global communities starve,” Gianluca Grimalda, a social science researcher and member of Scientist Rebellion, said in the news release. “It’s only fair that wealthy polluters pay the most into climate loss and damage funds to help the most vulnerable countries adapt.”


Private jet arrest toll rises to 413 after climate protest

November 14, 2022  (Dutch News)

Greenpeace Nederland Border police now say they arrested 413 climate activists who climbed fences and chained themselves to private jets at Schiphol airport earlier this month. The police originally spoke of 200 arrests but the true figure is more than double because some cases were only officially registered later, a spokesman told broadcaster NOS. All those arrested have since been released from custody. The protestors, from Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion, targeted part of the airport where private jets land and take off. Some of campaigners sat under the jets and others chained themselves to the planes outside the VIP terminal. ‘We want fewer flights, more trains and a ban on unnecessary short-haul flights and private jets,’ environmental campaign group Greenpeace said at the time. Once the police investigation has been concluded, the files will be passed to the public prosecution department which will decide if any of those arrested should be taken to court or fined. The paperwork is ‘considerable’, given the large number of arrests, the spokesman said. ‘We are taking about vandalising the fences and possibly some of the jets,’ he told NOS.


Climate activists target private jet airports and demand ban at Cop27

Protesters gather at Farnborough and Luton as part of global action, also calling for tax on frequent fliers

By Damien Gayle Environment correspondent  @damiengayle
Thu 10 Nov 2022  (The Guardian)

Climate activists have blocked entrances to two of the UK’s premier private jet airports as part of a global wave of action against private aviation timed to coincide with Cop27.

The activists, from Extinction Rebellion and Scientist Rebellion, staged blockades at Farnborough airport, in Hampshire, and London Luton airport’s Harrods terminal on Thursday morning.

Similar protests were taking place at terminals in Berlin, Milan, Stockholm and Trondheim as part of a coordinated campaign planned in 13 countries targeting the private aviation industry. Activists also struck at Ibiza and Melbourne on Wednesday, and Amsterdam on Saturday.

Activists from Extinction Rebellion, Scientist Rebellion and Last Generation blocking the entrance of an airport facility in Milan.

Data from FlightRadar showed 36 private jets landed at Sharm el-Sheikh between 4 and 6 November, and 64 flew into Cairo, 24 of which had come from Sharm el-Sheikh, BBC News reported on Thursday.

Extinction Rebellion said: “The campaign is targeting the climate-destroying, jet-setting lifestyles of billionaires and multimillionaires, which are exacerbating climate breakdown and condemning the global majority to a lifetime of poverty.”

The activists said they were calling on dignitaries gathering at Cop27 to ban the use of private jets, which they said were five to 14 times more polluting per passenger than commercial planes, and 50 times more polluting than trains.

XR added: “Campaigners are also demanding a tax on those who fly frequently to cut emissions and help raise funds to pay for the loss and damage caused by climate breakdown.”

Bedfordshire constabulary said the protests at Luton had little impact, with protesters arriving at 7.15am and leaving by 10.15am. “No arrests, no ongoing disruption; they turned up, gave some leaflets out and left,” said a spokesperson.

Hampshire constabulary said they were aware of a protest at Farnborough, and that the force was in contact with staff at the airport to “ensure health and safety” and monitor “the impact on the local community if necessary”, although officers were not on the scene.

“Everyone has the right to free speech and protest,” the force’s spokesperson said.

Officers were on the scene at various locations on the M25, however, where Just Stop Oil activists continued their disruptive protests for a fourth day. Supporters of the climate “civil resistance” group again stopped traffic by climbing on to gantries in multiple locations – in spite of a promise by police that officers were “ready to respond to any criminality” on London’s orbital motorway.

Among those taking action on the M25 on Thursday was Phoebe Plummer, who gained notoriety after she threw tomato soup on Van Gogh’s Sunflowers in the National Gallery in London last month.

“As a young person, the only future I see before me is one of mass famine, severe droughts, wildfires, floods and societal collapse,” said Plummer, 21. “I understand people must be frustrated with us, and rightly so, but we have to disrupt daily life because we are hurtling towards climate catastrophe, yet the government continues to betray me, my generation and people in the global south by issuing new oil licenses.”

Eleven members of Just Stop Oil were due to appear in courts on Wednesday after being charged with causing a public nuisance. “This follows a joint operation involving the Metropolitan police, Essex police, Surrey police, Kent police and Hertfordshire police following serious disruption to motorists on the M25,” the Met said.

As the campaign continues, polling by YouGov has found that almost two-thirds of Britons say they are opposed to Just Stop Oil’s disruptive tactics. According to a survey of 1,700 adults between 20 and 21 October – while the group’s protests were focused on central London – 64% said they opposed the tactics, which included roadblocks and spraying paint on buildings, while just one in five (21%) said they backed them.

There were big differences along political lines. Nine in 10 (91%) 2019 Conservative voters opposed the protesters’ actions, compared with just 5% who were supportive. In contrast, 2019 Labour voters were more evenly split, with similar numbers showing support (43%) for the protesters’ actions and expressing opposition (44%).


See earlier:

Paris to push private jet bans at EU ministers meeting

The French transport minister, Clément Beaune, has said the EU could no longer tolerate people using private jets for their personal convenience and fun, when the public was being asked to make sacrifices in the energy crisis and due to climate change.  He said: “Certain types of behaviour are no longer acceptable. We have to act to regulate flights on private jets.” Everyone has to make an effort, and the super-rich should not be excluded.  Also that companies might be forced to publish regular details on their use of corporate aircraft. Trips on private jets cause the emission of hugely more CO2 even than first class seats on commercial flights.  Private jets are used a lot in France, and the mileage increased during Covid.  Neither the EU nor France is considering an outright ban on business jets because of their role in the world economy. But it is considering heavy taxation and restrictions on their use in France, especially for short trips where there is a good train service.  But the bill is unlikely to be passed by the government.  Earlier the French government banned flights on internal trips where the train takes under 2 and a half hours.


Call for ban on UK private jets by 2025 with their climate impact as much as x10 that of a regular economy seat

Private jets are a total anachronism, in an age of climate emergency and climate crisis.  First Class or business class seats cause far more CO2 to be emitted than economy seats. But private jet CO2 emissions per passenger – usually less than 5 passengers per plane – are an order of magnitude higher than of an average economy class seat. Now research by the Common Wealth thinktank indicates that private jet flights to and from UK airports in a year may contribute as much to the climate crisis as 450,000 cars. It suggests they should be banned as soon as 2025, with possible research into partly electric planes (small private jets are the only ones for which electric flight is feasible).  There were some 128,000 private jet flights between UK and EU airports in 2018 and 14,000 trips were also made to destinations outside Europe.  Industry estimates suggest that about 40% of private jet movements are empty leg journeys, in which aircraft are repositioned for the convenience of the super-rich and corporate customers who use them. Almost half of all private jet traffic in Britain passes through five airports around London, given its status as the home to the most billionaires in Europe.



Extinction Rebellion blocks entrances to Farnborough, protesting about the high CO2 from private jets

Extinction Rebellion Farnborough activists blocked three entrances to Farnborough, which is a private airport in Hampshire.  They are protesting at the very high carbon emissions produced by private jet flights – which could be x20 as high carbon as a trip on a commercial plane. Farnborough airport is the largest for private jets in the UK, with no commercial flights and few military. The flights are largely used by the very rich, celebrities and business leaders. Some of the protesters locked themselves to a stretch limousine, with a driver being locked onto the steering wheel, and to fuel barrels and a 3-metre steel tripod.  At one point they moved flags blocking a road, in order to allow a car leave the airport to take someone to hospital. The airport continued to operate during the protest.  Farnborough boasts of “offering a 5 star service with no compromises.” It operated over 32,500 flights in 2019, with 27% at weekends.  There was a reduction in flights in 2020 (Covid) but a far  smaller reduction than for commercial airlines. People who could afford to preferred to continue to travel, but on private jets. These jets tend to carry, on average, about 2.3 passengers. The airport hopes to expand to 50,000 flights per year.