Climate activist Greta Thunberg joined local residents, Extinction Rebellion activists, and climate crisis campaigners outside Farnborough Airport on Saturday 27 January to protest against plans to increase private jet flights from 50,000 to 70,000 a year. The protesters also called for a total ban on private jets, which are up to 30 times more polluting than passenger airliners.
Thunberg in Farnborough
The fact that using private jets is both legally and socially allowed today in an escalating climate emergency is completely detached from reality.
There are few examples that show as clearly how the rich elite is sacrificing present and future living conditions on this planet so they can maintain their extreme and violent lifestyles.
Hundreds of protestors gathered in Farnborough town centre at 11am to march alongside Thunberg to Farnborough Airport, setting off pink smoke flares and waving banners proclaiming ‘Flying to Extinction’, ‘Stop Private Flights Now’, ‘No to Airport Expansion’ and ‘Private Flights = Public Deaths’:
The march, organised by Extinction Rebellion Waverley and Borders, accompanied by Extinction Rebellion’s iconic lightship, Greta Thunberg, the Red Rebels, and 60 drummers, gathered at the airport’s main gate where speakers addressed the crowd from the lightship’s helm:
Protestors from Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Alton Climate Action Network, the Quakers, XR Scientists, XR Families, as well as local councillors and residents also joined them and Thunberg:
Speakers included representatives from Extinction Rebellion, Safe Landing, anti-private jet campaign group Possible, No Airport Expansion Group, TV broadcaster and naturalist Chris Packham – who sent a pre-recorded speech – and local campaigner Colin Shearn of Farnborough Noise group.
Shearn has an antisocial behaviour injunction served against him by Surrey police for campaigning against the airport. The injunction is designed to silence him.
Farnborough: the super-rich killing the rest of us
This was the latest in a series of protests against the airport’s planning application, which seeks to more than double weekend flights and boost the use of heavier, more polluting private jets.
Despite claiming the majority of flights are for business use, the research showed that most Farnborough flights are headed to holiday destinations. Last September a ‘pets on jets’ service launched to fly dogs and their owners from Dubai to Farnborough and back.
The ‘fastest way to fry the planet’
Todd Smith, former airline pilot and Extinction Rebellion spokesperson, said:
Flying is the fastest way to fry the planet, and private jets are the most polluting way to fly. Surely it’s a no brainer to ban private jets and stop expanding these luxury airports in the midst of a climate crisis? Survey after survey, as well as several citizens’ assemblies have shown this would be very popular and has widespread support from the general public.
For most people, life has become more difficult. The cost of heating our homes, buying food and paying our bills has increased massively. So imagine looking out our windows to see yet more private jets flying billionaires around.
Is this a fair society that we live in, or is there one set of rules for the majority, and another for the elites? Plans to expand the UK’s largest private jet airport seem to make this clear.
‘Reckless, stupid, and selfish’
Godalming resident Chris Neill said:
We’re in a global climate and ecological emergency. We need to reduce carbon emissions fast and there’s no realistic plan for taking the carbon out of jet fuel. Until there is, we need to fly much less, not more.
This plan to expand a luxury airport used exclusively by very wealthy people at a time when ordinary people are struggling to manage everyday life is reckless, stupid and selfish. We need a government which has the courage to stop this.
Finlay Asher, aerospace engineer and member of aviation workers group Safe Landing, added:
As aviation workers, we understand there’s a choice to be made about how we use our limited planetary resources. If we expand private jet flights, then this will consume a large slice of the pie, and leave nothing for anybody else.
However, there is a positive way forward for society and for our industry: provide genuinely sustainable clean transport for the masses instead, rather than continuing to expand super-polluting private jet airports which cater only to a tiny minority of ultra-wealthy individuals.
Thunberg versus Rushmoor
Sarah Hart from Farnborough said:
As a local resident and a mum of two I am utterly appalled at the airport’s plan to expand when we should be banning private flying completely. We need to be taking drastic steps to ensure a liveable world for all our children, not increasing our use in fossil fuels.
The airport’s planning application has been met with widespread opposition by local residents and environment and climate campaigners, with over 2,700 comments received, the vast majority of which are opposed to the plans. Rushmoor Borough Council is set to consider the application in March.
Featured image and additional images via Extinction Rebellion
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