Court solidarity this December 2015 and January 2016

Direct action works! That's why we do it. Our disruptive direct actions this year, combined with more conventional campaigning by other groups, have scored a big win against the pro-aviation expansion lobby , with the recent government announcement that the decision on aviation expansion is to be delayed another 6 months.

But after direct actions comes the court case, a tedious, sometimes costly and often lengthy process. Please support the Plane Stupid activists and community defenders at their court appearances, court solidarity means a lot when people are up against the unjust legal system, which penalises climate defenders as 'criminals' whilst protecting the interests of the rich and those who destroy nature and, in this case, inflict misery on the communities around Heathrow Airport.

The court dates for your diary are:

Wednesday 23 December 2015 – 1.30pm Uxbridge Magistrates' Court 

Heathrow tunnel blockaders and local residents have their first court appearance, see details of their action in November 2015.

Monday 18 January 2016 – 9am Willesden Magistrates' Court

13 activists who occupied Heathrow Airport in July 2015 have their trial. The trial will last 2 weeks. All 13 activists are asserting their right to defend the climate and the communities negatively impacted by Heathrow, and are pleading not guilty. See details of their action in July 2015. The nearest Tube station is Neasden, get directions.

Bring cake and banners, or just yourselves!

Decarbonising the UK: the aviation industry is the elephant in the room

 

 

Airport expansion is unsustainable – environmentally, socially, and politically. First and foremost, aviation is a hugely polluting industry, responsible for emissions of around 34 Mt CO2 e in 2013 in the UK. Airports also cause enormous suffering for local residents by drastically reducing local air quality and contributing considerably to local noise pollution. Imagine having a plane fly over your house at 80 decibels every 90 seconds. That’s something as loud as a pneumatic drill or a motorbike. Every 90 seconds!

In 2010 David Cameron promised he would not back a third runway at Heathrow, “no ifs, no buts”. That’s the phrase Plane Stupid protesters picked up on Thursday 26th November when they blocked the tunnel leading to terminals 1, 2 and 3. It’s also a phrase that demonstrates as well as any other the government’s willingness to compromise their promises and U-turn on key commitments such as their commitment to tackling climate change.

A non-committal response, or worse, no commitment at all, on climate change is exactly what is not needed in the run-up to the outcome of the Paris climate summit. The summit is considered to be a pivotal moment in the global struggle to limit the worst effects of climate change, and time is running out to reach a global agreement that will prevent warming of more than 2°C taking place, the agreed threshold considered to be “dangerous climate change”.

Our dependence on carbon-based fossil fuels is driving climate change. Aviation is inherently carbon intensive because of its reliance on high-density petroleum-derived fuels like kerosene. You can’t safely substitute more than 10% of jet fuel for biofuels, and that’s before you even consider the associated issues of the food vs. fuel debate and whether biofuels may have even worse climate impacts.

Aircraft themselves are also difficult to decarbonise – most of the efficiency savings that are currently technologically possible (such as weight reductions or streamlining aircraft bodies) have already been made and there are few remaining options. Marginal reductions of aviation’s carbon footprint are possible, for instance with the introduction of operational measures like air traffic management, but ultimately the only thing that will reduce emissions to a safe level is reducing the number of flights.

In this context, it is clear that government plans to expand Heathrow airport are utterly unsustainable, and totally irresponsible. Direct actions like those taken by Plane Stupid activists last week and throughout 2015 are becoming more and more necessary given the failure of our government to listen to popular demands to scrap destructive plans like a third runway.

Aviation is a #RedLine 

Aviation is a #RedLine 

On the 26th of November, just three days before the COP21 climate conference in Paris was due to start, three Plane Stupid activists blocked the main road access tunnel to Heathrow's terminals 1, 2 and 3. This reportedly caused a traffic tailback several miles long as police directed inbound vehicles to one lane of the outbound tunnel. Our early entry for the #ClimateGames - the direct action adventure game being used as a platform for actions around the COP21 - sent a clear message to the UK government that expanding aviation is a no-go for the climate. Were it to go ahead the UK would undoubtedly miss its emissions targets as set out under the 2008 Climate Change Act. 

Nor will aviation expansion benefit the majority of the population or businesses, as is often claimed. The  demand for airport expansion is being driven by rich frequent  flyers. Last year, less than half of people in Britain flew. Of those who did, a mere 15% of flyers took 70% of our flights. As well as noise and air pollution, poor people are paying the price in droughts, flooding and storms so that the rich can cook the planet with frequent leisure flights. Whilst we might hope that David Cameron might live up to his pre-election promise - “no ifs, no buts, no third runway” - we can't rely on it. After being forced to take non-violent disobedient action where all other options were exhausted, we stopped a third runway before and we'll stop it again this time too. 

#RedLines 

At the COP21 talks this year in Paris, the theme for the mass day of  action on December 12th (D12) is Red Lines. These red lines represent lines  minimum limits for a just and liveable planet that must never be  crossed if we are to stay within the 2C rise in global temperatures. Failure to stay within this threshold will take us down a road where even if we reduce emissions to zero, feedback loops will mean that emissions will continue to rise. The result: climate chaos. 

In reality there are many Red Lines we should not cross, but governments and corporations seem intent to do so. In the UK this includes the aviation industry, which if it continues to grow at its current rate will by 2050 emit all of the carbon it is safe for the UK to emit. Beyond this, other red lines that are being crossed nationally include increasing unconventional fossil fuel extraction through fracking, part of the government 'dash for gas' power stations rather than renewables. Internationally, there are similar concerns as well as a clear  need to stop lignite coal mining in Germany and the Tar Sands in Alberta, Canada. Whilst there are many such examples of industries that  cannot continue, overall the science dictates that the fossil fuel industry must transition to renewables and most of the carbon must be kept in the ground. 


Beyond the talks in Paris 

Unlike the climate talks in Copenhagen, many activists are going to  Paris with low expectations. We know that the heads of states and business leaders won't come up with a satisfactory deal to prevent climate catastrophe. Naomi Klein writes in 'This Changes Everything' that climate deals always come in second place to trade deals as corporate profit and perpetual economic growth are ideologically untouchable in our  neoliberal era. With this in mind, the aim for many activists is to see the Paris talks as a way for us all to network between struggles and to show on the twelth day, D12, that if our 'leaders' won't do it, then we can stop climate chaos  ourselves. Unfortunately, with the recent events in Paris, marches have been banned out of fears over safety, but with creativity and determination we are finding ways to mobilise and still have the final word.

However, given that we know that the solutions to the climate crisis won't come from the COP, let's see this as an opportunity rather than a problem. Let's get out and take action wherever the real #RedLines are: the dirty fossil fuel industries, the unsustainable, undemocratic mega-projects. #ClimateGames starts tomorrow. In this game we have nothing to lose but our fears. We have our whole futures to win. Asking our 'leaders' to solve our problems has left us with the hottest years on record, year after year.  We  are the solution we've been waiting for.

We are not fighting for nature. We are nature defending itself.

See you on the playing field,

"Paula Bear"

Plane Stupid blockade Heathrow entrance tunnel

The main road entrance to Heathrow airport has been blocked by climate change activists since 7.40 this morning. Three members of anti-airport expansion campaign group Plane Stupid parked a vehicle across both lanes of the entrance tunnel and locked their bodies to it, unfurling a banner quoting David Cameron's election promise: “No Ifs, No Buts: No Third Runway”. David Cameron has promised a decision by the end of the year on whether to build another runway at Heathrow.[1] 

Local resident Neil Keveren, a builder whose village, Harmondsworth, would be bulldozed for the third runway, arrived later at the tunnel. He was fined after blocking the same tunnel with his van on 2nd July.[2] He said, “No one wants to do this. They feel they have to. People feel they have no choice. After we campaigned for years, David Cameron was elected promising 'no ifs, no buts: no third runway'.[3] In 2010 the High Court ruled third runwayplans “untenable in law and common sense” because they breached the Climate Change Act.[4] Now Cameron might just build it anyway. We have tried every other option. We have been forced to be disobedient just to be heard. To save our homes and our planet.” 

Plane Stupid spokesperson Cameron Kaye said, “Airport expansion would wreck the legally binding Climate Change Act,[5] risking wiping out 55% of species this century[6] and displacing 75 million more people from their homes by 2035.[7] if aviation growth isn't reduced, by 2037 aviation alone could emit all of the carbon it's safe for the UK to emit.[8] The government needs to choose: build new runways or stop climate chaos: it's that simple. 

“There is already airport capacity for families taking their yearly holiday. New runways only benefit the 15% of flyers who take 70% of our flights,[9] cooking our planet. These are rich frequent leisure flyers. The most reliable predictors of frequent flyer status are a household income over £115,000 and owning a second home abroad,[10] but it's the poorest people who suffer most from climate change.” 

On 13th July Plane Stupid blocked Heathrow's North runway, reportedly causing 22 flights to be cancelled and hundreds delayed.[11]

Photos can be used freely from twitter.com/planestupid

Contact the Plane Stupid press team:

07799360351

press@planestupid.com

@planestupid

 

References:

[1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-33341548

[2] http://www.getwestlondon.co.uk/news/west-london-news/heathrow-airport-van-protest-man-9582532

[3] http://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/david-cameron-lied-to-londoners-about-blocking-third-runway-9012834.html

[4] http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2010/mar/26/heathrow-third-runway-travel-and-transport

[5] Aviation Environment Federation, 16 June 2015, 'All set for take off? Aviation emissions to soar under Airports Commission proposals', p.1, http://www.aef.org.uk/uploads/All-set-for-take-off-AEF-report.pdf

[6] Over 3.5 degrees, 40 to 70 per cent [average 55%] of all assessed species will be extinct. If no action is taken, this will happen by 2100.: IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007, 3.4 Risk of abrupt or irreversible changes, https://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/syr/en/mains3-4.html If no action: 3.7 degree rise by 2100 if representative concentration pathway 8.5 (RCP8.5) is followed. IPCC: Table SPM-2, in: Summary for Policymakers, in: IPCC AR5 WG1 2013, p. 21http://www.climatechange2013.org/images/report/WG1AR5_SPM_FINAL.pdf

[7] Global Humanitarian Forum: Human Impact Report, 2009, http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2009/may/29/1,http://www.ghf-ge.org/human-impact-report.pdf

[8] Page 5 of Growth Scenarios for EU & UK Aviation: contradictions with climate policy, Summary of research by Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research for Friends of the Earth Trust, Drs Alice Bows, Paul Upham, Kevin Anderson, The University of Manchester, 16 April 2005, http://www.foe.co.uk/sites/default/files/downloads/aviation_tyndall_summary.pdf

[9] Table ATT0601, Public experience of and attitudes towards air travel, DfT Statistical release, July 2014. Analysis by afreeride.org(passenger survey data), https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/335069/annex-a-tables.xls

[10] Air Transport Statistics, House of Commons Library Standard Note SN0370, p.9, http://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/SN03760.pdf

[11] http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jul/13/heathrow-disruption-climate-change-activists-claim-chained-runway

Green Party standing shoulder to shoulder with Plane Stupid activists on trial for Heathrow occupation

No ifs

Plane Stupid welcomes the solidarity of the Green Party, who at their party conference in September 2015 passed a motion to support the Plane Stupid activists who occupied the northern runway at Heathrow Airport in July 2015. Their statement is reproduced below:

 

Green Party to stand shoulder to shoulder with Plane Stupid accused

19 October 2015

The 13 members of activist group Plane Stupid accused of “aggregated trespass” during a protest at Heathrow airport in July will have the full support of the Green Party when they face trial next year.

The party’s autumn conference in Bournemouth passed a motion in support of the activists and deputy leader, Amelia Womack has outlined why the Party believes the protest to be just, stating that Heathrow Airport is a “major cause of illegal and deadly levels of air pollution” in the capital.

Womack said:

“The stunt took place weeks after the Airports Commission recommended a new runway at Heathrow. The fact is Heathrow Airport is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions and the science confirms that greenhouse gases must be dramatically reduced from present levels to tackle climate change.

“Moreover, Heathrow Airport is a major cause of illegal and deadly levels of air pollution in London. Local residents also suffer serious health impacts as a result of noise pollution and sleep disturbance.

“Our party applauds the determination of the 13 activists and we’ll be offering our full support when they stand trial in January next year.”

 

The action at Heathrow Airport prevented some planes from taking off and landing and took place at a critical moment, just after the Airports Commission reported. The Airports Commission failed to address climate change adequately in its report. Use of fossil fuels is destablising the climate and the life support systems upon which life depends, so we need to rapidly transition to a fossil free future. This means that we cannot have more carbon-intense mega-infrastructure projects like a new runway, in fact we need to reduce fossil fuel use dramatically from where we are now. It's up to people acting collectively to bring about a sustainable, just and fossil free world, since the government is taking us in the opposite direction. 

The 'Heathrow 13' activists also have strong support amongst the long suffering community around Heathrow. The trial takes place at Willesden Magistrates' Court starting on Monday 18 January 2016. 

 

Letter of solidarity to the Crown Prosecution Service

Plane Stupid would like to thank all of the signatories to the letter below, sent to the Crown Prosecution Service on Friday 9th of October, 2015. 

We are deeply grateful and appreciative of all the support we have received - from the signatories, from Heathrow’s local residents and from other groups campaigning for David Cameron to keep his promise.  No ifs, no buts, no new runways, anywhere.  

Open Letter to the Crown Prosecution Service

In July a group of climate activists with anti airport expansion group Plane Stupid took peaceful direct action at Heathrow Airport. They have been charged with aggravated trespass and being in a restricted area of the airport without permission.

The Plane Stupid action, which came just weeks after the recommendation by the Airports Commission to build a new runway at Heathrow, highlighted the importance of considering climate change in the context of any discussion about the future of the aviation industry.

The science tells us that deep cuts are required from existing levels of greenhouse gas emissions to tackle climate change, but successive governments, including the present one, have failed to act appropriately. A new runway, and the many thousands of extra flights it would allow, would make the necessary cuts far more difficult to achieve.

Against this background, with the failure of the democratic process, the actions of the Plane Stupid activists were reasonable, justifiable and honorable. We, the undersigned, call upon the CPS to drop the charges against the activists in the public interest – we should be congratulating them for the defending the planet, not prosecuting them.

Signed: 

John McDonnell MP (Shadow Chancellor)

Natalie Bennett (Leader of the Greens)

Caroline Lucas MP

Michael Mansfield QC (Human rights lawyer)

Rajiv Menon QC (Human rights lawyer)

Nnimmo Bassey (Leading African environmentalist, Winner of Right Livelihood Award)

Bill McKibben (Founder of 350.org)

Craig Bennett  (CEO, Friends of the Earth)

John Sauven (Executive Director of Greenpeace UK)

John Stewart (Chair of HACAN)

Suzanne Jeffrey (Vice Chair of Campaign against Climate Change)

Dr Damien Short (Human rights advocate and lecturer)

George Monbiot (Writer) 

 

UPDATE: this letter was referred to in this Guardian article on Friday 9 October 2015: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/oct/09/shadow-chancellor-calls-for-charges-against-heathrow-activists-to-be-dropped