Farnborough airport blockaded by Extinction Rebellion protesters

  • Post last modified:June 3, 2024
  • Reading time:18 mins read

An outer London airport – Farnborough – frequently used by the super-rich and politicians, including Boris Johnson, has been the target of Extinction Rebellion and other groups. They highlighted how the flying habits of the super rich are effectively helping to kill us all via their contribution to the climate crisis.

Farnborough: you’re killing us all!

On Sunday 2 June, a group of activists blocked all the main gates of Farnborough airport, the biggest private jet airport in the UK, which has plans to greatly expand. This was part of an international week of action targeting private jets and the injustice of aviation, with protests happening in Denmark, Germany, Mexico, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the US.

At Farnborough, protesters barricaded the airport’s Gulfstream Gate with the Extinction Rebellion pink boat:

Ively Gate had four protesters locked on to oil drums:

At the airport’s departure gate activists mounted two tripods blockading the entrance:

A fourth group of protesters moved between the airport’s other gates to block them:

At all three main gates, protesters released colourful smoke flares, chanting slogans and engaging with members of the public, accompanied by the XR Rebel Rhythms band of drummers:

Farnborough airport extinction rebellionFarnborough airport extinction rebellion

Dr Jessica Upton, a veterinary surgeon and foster carer from Oxford, said:

I’m here today because private airports are an abomination. Expanding Farnborough would be putting the indulgent wants of the rich minority over the needs of the majority. Local people need cleaner air and less noise pollution, and the world’s population urgently needs rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to survive.

Private airports disproportionately contribute to climate breakdown and closing them would boost our chances of sticking to the Paris Climate Accords, the supposedly legally binding international treaty agreed to and signed by our government.

More than 100 people took part in the protests and several were arrested.

Farnborough airport: private jets should be banned

Inês Teles, campaigner at Stay Grounded, said:

It’s utterly obscene that, during a climate and cost of living crisis, while people are burning under scorching heat in India and Mexico or being displaced by catastrophic flooding in Brazil, the super-rich keep flying on their private jets and pouring gas in a world on fire.

These are the worst form of bullshit flights, and need to be banned, as well as short-haul flights or night flights. We need to stop this madness and hold the super-rich and institutions accountable for the destruction they are causing.

The actions happened under the banner of the Make Them Pay campaign, supported by Stay Grounded, Scientist Rebellion, and Extinction Rebellion groups. It unites citizens and scientists from around the globe behind three demands:

  1. Ban Private Jets
  2. Tax Frequent Flyers
  3. Make Polluters Pay

Gianluca Grimalda, university researcher and climate activist, said:

Private jets are the single most polluting form of transport, causing about 10 times more CO2 emissions per passenger than a regular flight, and up to 100 times more than trains. About two thirds of such flights are done for leisure over short stretches on which a lower-emitting alternative exists.

The ‘collateral damage’ of such flights is to cause about 20.000 deaths every year, as we know that every 4.000 ton of CO2 will kills one person and private jets produce about 80 million tons of CO2 every year. This is unacceptable, inhumane, and abhorrent.

Aviation is the pinnacle of climate injustice

But private jets are not the only problem: aviation as a whole is the pinnacle of climate injustice, with 1% of the population being responsible for 50% of its emissions and 80% of the world population never having set food on a plane.

As the world witnesses the announced death of the 1.5º C barrier, scientists and people worldwide call for a full shift in terms of how society relates to aviation and other high emission sectors, to be able to avert the worst effects of climate breakdown which, while affecting everyone, will be even more deadly for the poorest and most vulnerable parts of society.

The rich need to step up and cut superfluous habits such as using private jets, if the entire society is to support a move towards the necessary change.

A report by Oxfam highlighted that the richest 1% grabbed nearly two-thirds of all new wealth created since 2020, totaling $42 trillion, almost twice as much money as the bottom 99% of the world’s population.

The demands of the Make Them Pay campaign seek to pave the road towards a fairer wealth distribution: an annual wealth tax of up to 5% on the world’s billionaires could raise $1.7 trillion a year, enough to deliver a 10-year plan to end hunger, support poorer countries being ravaged by climate impacts, and deliver universal healthcare and social protection for everyone living in low-income countries.

Climate inequality is one of the world’s most pressing problems, and questions of social and economic justice must be at the heart of how we act on the climate collapse.

Featured image and additional images via Extinction Rebellion

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