On Saturday 16 December, supporters of campaign group Code Rouge-Rood from several European countries entered Lìege Airport in a peaceful direct action to denounce the injustice and climate impact of aviation and demand a drastic reduction of flights.
Belgium: airports blocked over climate crisis
This happened just after hundreds of activists were arrested around Antwerp, while preparing to block Antwerp International airport, one of the biggest private jet airports in Belgium. Despite police targetting activists, a large group managed to enter Antwerp Airport and achieved success: no private jets took off from Kortrijk or Antwerp today:
Ruth Marie, spokesperson for the Code Rouge movement, said:
Private jets are the pinnacle of climate injustice and there is absolutely no reason for their existence in a climate and cost of living crisis. The frequent flying habits of the super-rich are a huge driver of collapse and the epitome of this injustice: 1% of the global population is responsible for 50% of aviation emissions. It’s time for the super-rich to quit their destructive toys and luxury habits and stop burning up our planet. It’s time to ban private jets.
At Liège Airport, Europe’s fastest growing cargo airport and the main European logistics hub for e-commerce firm Alibaba, 600 activists prevented planes from unloading the imported cargo onto distribution trucks. They denounced the expansion of the airport and the growth of air freight for mass consumption, with major impacts on health, the local economy, and the climate:
Liège Airport is the fastest growing cargo airport in Europe and they still want to continue expanding it. This is madness: airport expansion must stop, here and everywhere, and air traffic needs to be drastically reduced, through a process of just transition that prioritises workers’ safety and livelihoods. At the same time, we need to shift towards an economy of short distances that enables the reduction of air freight.
The protests are part of a mass civil disobedience action announced by Code Rouge targeting the aviation industry. Their demands, include a ban on private jets and short haul flights, the end of subsidies for the aviation sector and its greenwashing, the decrease of air freight and an end to all airport expansion in Belgium – measures that need to be paired with a just transition for workers and wide investment in public and affordable grounded transport:
Stopping ‘ecocidal enterprises’
In Mexico, another wave of protests shows a different face of airport conflicts: activists are denouncing the new International Tulum airport, highlighting its connection to military projects and US presence. They condemn the fact that it’s marketed as a ‘green airport’ despite its huge environmental impacts and the way it disregards and jeopardises Mayan people’s interests.
Angel Sulub, spokesperson for Permanecer en la Tierra, said:
This airport and connected megaprojects, such as the Tren Maya, are ecocidal enterprises, having led to the cutting of 5.7 million trees. It is increasing the presence of military forces in the region and violates the right to free, prior and informed consent of the Mayan peoples. It illustrates dramatically the scope of neocolonial global injustice that is part of the aviation and tourism sectors and of a world of globalised hypermobility.
These actions take place days after another UN Climate Change Conference, which world leaders swarmed to on private jets to discuss solutions for the climate crisis. Besides failing, once again, to establish binding commitments to phase out fossil fuels, COP28 continued to leave international aviation emissions out of the agreements, making clear how much a strong climate justice movement is needed to push for real solutions.
The protests mark the end of a year full of diverse and impactful actions opposing aviation and demanding it’s reduction, particularly around private jets and luxury emissions, entering 2024 with a growing international movement:
Featured image and additional images via Stay Grounded
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