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.
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%).