Activists have blockaded a mock runway outside Parliament to oppose airport expansion and highlight the inequality of catastrophic climate impacts on the day a government announcement is expected.
This morning, 40 Activists locked together using ‘arm tubes’ on a mock runway outside Parliament to signal their intent to continue fighting airport expansion. Air traffic controllers with “STOP” paddleslined the runway highlighting the need to stop climate change as well as noise and air pollution. Other campaigners and local residents held a banner reading “Climate Change Kills, No New Runways.”
Shona Kealey spokesperson for Plane Stupid, said,
“Two weeks ago, enough countries agreed to ratify the Paris Agreement for it to come into force. Last week, the government’s climate advisers issued a report saying reducing aviation emissions should be a priority if we’re going to honour the Climate Change Act. And now, with today’s announcement, our government proclaims to the world that we’re a dishonest and unreliable nation who can’t be trusted to keep to our international agreements or even follow our own laws, just as we’re about to renegotiate trade agreements with the whole world.
“Obedience to this government is suicide. If they think we’re going to quietly follow them over the cliff, they’re dreaming.
Speaking for Reclaim the Power, Stephanie Nicholls said,
“We can honour our commitments to tackle climate change, or we can build new runways - we can’t do both. Aviation expansion anywhere is irresponsible, and globally will impact the most on the people who’ve done least to cause the problem. Climate change is already hitting poorer communities in the global south, who are the least likely to ever set foot on a plane.
“When the government won’t follow its own rules, it’s time for normal people to step up and take action. Following today's announcement climate activists, council leaders and local residents will be standing together to make any new runways undeliverable. If the government thinks they can override local opinion, climate science and their own commitments they’ve got another thing coming.”
Throughout the day, local residents and environmental campaigners will be in the Five Bells Pub in Harmondsworth (Harmondsworth High Street, UB7 0AQ) to demonstrate continuing opposition to airport expansion and will be available for interview. Contact: Rob Barnstone, 07806 947050.
Local residents from Gatwick CAGNE (Communities Against Gatwick Noise Emissions) will be meeting at the Plough Inn, Ifield from midday to watch the decision. Contact: Sally Pavey, email@example.com, 07831 632537.
We are expecting new direct action network Rising Up to announce escalating direct action against airport expansion following the government announcement. Contact: Simon Bramwell, 07760 556177, firstname.lastname@example.org.
A new runway at Heathrow is predicted to increase local noise and air pollution as well as produce an extra 9 Megatonnes of CO2 per year, exceeding the safe limits recommended by the Committee on Climate Change and accelerating devastating climate change.
This growth is incompatible with UK climate targets as set out in the Climate Change Act 2008.
The International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO), assembled right now in Montreal, has not proposed any plans so far to limit the CO2 emissions from aviation.
Globally, flying benefits a privileged few - only 3-7% of people have flown - and even in the UK a 15% minority of the population take 70% of flights. In contrast, the damaging impacts of aviation are experienced by everyone - climate change will affect the entire world population but is hitting some of the poorest, most vulnerable areas (where people do not fly) first and worst.
The aviation industry enjoys a number of tax breaks: most substantially there is no duty on aircraft fuel or VAT on tickets, a ‘major anomaly’ according to the World Bank and IMF. This money could be invested in sustainable transport, in improving rail connections around the UK and internationally.
A large proportion of Heathrow flights are short haul, these routes could be better, and more sustainably, serviced by improved rail infrastructure. Past experience shows this: since the Eurostar has been running the number of flights from London to Paris and Brussels has fallen dramatically (by nearly half and a third, respectively).
The UN body for the aviation industry met between 26th Sept - 7th Oct this year for the World Aviation Forum, and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Assembly. They agreed on using Carbon Offsets as a voluntary market mechanism to make aviation 'sustainable'; though the agreement ultimately fell short of the ICAO’s own target of a system which ‘offsets’ all future growth in aviation emissions - the agreement is expected to cover 80%.
The protest was jointly organised by Reclaim the Power, a grassroots direct action network taking action for social and environmental justice, and Plane Stupid, a network of grassroots groups that take non-violent direct action against aviation expansion.
A full statement from Plane Stupid responding to the decision will be available here.
Plane Stupid has been taking action against aviation expansion since 2005. They occupied Stansted, East Midlands, Aberdeen and Heathrow airports, shut down easyJet and BAA’s headquarters, stopped private jets at Biggin Hill, London City and Edinburgh airports; sat atop the House of Commons and the Scottish Parliament, supported the Camp for Climate Action at Heathrow, worked with local residents to defend their homes from the bulldozers; exposed a corporate spy and ‘slimed’ Peter Mandelson.
The group made headlines in July 2015 with a blockade of the Northern runway at Heathrow, and the high profile trial of the ‘Heathrow 13’, who narrowly escaped a prison sentence and becoming the first ‘climate prisoners’ in the UK.
Plane Stupid supports the Black Lives Matter UK invention at City Airport earlier this week. Developing a dialogue with, and demonstrating solidarity with communities impacted by aviation and climate change locally and internationally, has been part of the work of Plane Stupid for some time. Globally, climate change disproportionately affects people of colour.
In addition, in the case of City Airport, it is the predominantly non-white and low income community of Newham who will suffer the worst local environmental impacts from airport expansion – including noise and air pollution, leading to health problems such as heart disease, sleep disturbance, asthma, and depression - all of which can lead to early death, and compound existing health problems. By contrast, the people flying from City Airport are predominantly white, and typically have an annual salary of over £90,000.
City Airport has recently been granted permission to expand, despite the obvious contribution of this expansion to climate change, and the aggravating impact expansion will have on existing inequalities in the Newham area.
Plane Stupid believes in a just and sustainable transition to a peaceful, low carbon future. Plane Stupid is against all airport expansion, and will continue to take direct action in pursuit of this aim. Plane Stupid supports all other actions targeted against aviation where these are not inconsistent with our ethos.
Yesterday morning #UKBlackLivesMatter carried out a series of actions across the UK following a call for a #ShutDown.
Their actions were highlighting that for Black and Brown people, every day is a crisis in a system based on White Supremacy. That racism can be felt in many different ways, from the extreme brutality inflicted by police and state violence, which has resulted in 1,562 people losing their lives in police custody in the last 20 years; to the abhorrent detention of people fleeing war-zones; to the subtle and insidious forms of racism such as Black people being up to 37 times more likely to be stopped and searched. #BlackLivesMatter call for a #ShutDown of racism, and only by taking disruptive direct action are their voices beginning to be heard. Business as usual is a crisis. Therefore, we must #ShutDown.
By no small coincidence, some of these actions affected two major UK airports: Heathrow and Birmingham. For us the links between our struggles are clear. Expanding aviation, which is driving climate chaos, is part of the same way of thinking that is driving racism in the UK. Politicians and businessmen want to expand aviation to make more money for them and their friends. Also, the majority of flights in the UK – over 70% - are taken by a rich minority of the population – just 15%. Globally, just 5% of people have ever taken a flight. The rich minority benefit, whilst other people pay the cost. This can be through losing their homes and or suffering pollution which affects their health locally and globally. The rich want to profit at the cost of other peoples' lives and communities.
Climate change is already killing 300,000 people a year and this will only get worse. The effects of climate change aren't colour blind, as it is primarily Black, Brown and indigenous people in the Global South who feel the effects first and hardest. The UN estimates there will be 75 million climate refugees by 2030. We're already able to see the effects, for instance, in Syria. It is only because those in power don't consider these lives to matter that they can make such life destroying decisions. The rich in the Global North benefit whilst the Global South pays the price. This is Climate Colonialism. This is Environmental Racism.
Our movements have a lot to learn from one another and have so much in common. Fundamentally, systemic change is needed to bring an end to both racism and climate change. People of colour's struggles have much to teach us, historically and in the present day, about what it means to be affected by these issues and how to fight back. #BlackLivesMatter are bringing these issues to the fore, and showing the rest of us that direct action is necessary to bring about change. It's time to #ShutDown.
Today, against the wishes of people locally, people around the world and against all recommendations based in scientific evidence, the UK government has decided to build a new runway at Heathrow. This is a disastrous decision for the climate and one that we will not allow to become a reality.
A new runway means climate chaos
We've said this so many times before, the UK government has set it's own legally binding climate change targets in the Climate Change Act 2008. At current rates of growth, the aviation sector threatens to take up most of the safe carbon budget by 2030, that's without any new runways. A new runway at Heathrow will emit the same amount of carbon dioxide as the entire country of Kenya, making it impossible for us to meet our climate targets. In Paris last year, the UK government signed up to the COP21 agreement to limit climate change to 1.5 degrees, in the hope of avioiding catastrophe. However, because this agreement was non-binding we knew that this was all just hot air. Now, with new runways being given the go ahead, as well as fracking, what we knew all along has become clear as day. This government will not do what is necessary to prevent climate chaos, therefore it is up to grassroots groups such as us to take direct action and ensure these dangerous projects don't happen.
Climate Change is happening now
The effects of climate change are becoming more and more difficult to ignore. According to the UN 300,000 people are dying each year due to the effects of climate change. This number will only increase if we don't reduce our emissions drastically now. The effects of climate change, however, are being felt disproportionately by those who had least to do with causing the problems. As Black Lives Matter UK highlighted in their City Airport #ShutDown last month, it is Black, Brown and indigenous people who pay the price first and hardest for this climate crisis. Extreme weather events such as Hurricane Matthew which has devastated Haiti are becoming more and more common, and it's countries who, as a result of unfair trade policies that amount to neocolonialism, don't have the resources to mitigate against such events.
Climate change is also one of the drivers of conflicts, such as the civil war in Syria, with millions fleeing as refugees. By 2035 it's predicted there will be 75,000,000 climate refugees. Yet, countries like the UK take little or no responsibility for this, and many who come here looking for sanctuary are locked up in detention centres like Harmondsworth or Colnbrook. The UK is causing the problems by expanding aviation, and then when people affected ask for help they are treated like criminals. As citizens of the UK, it is necessary that we take on the responsibilityour government has refused, and prevent this runway from being built.
Local people aren't going to accept this decision. They're sick of the noise and air pollution which is cutting their lives short already and they're not going to take and more. They've told us that they will have to be dragged out of their houses before they give up their homes and their communities, and we'll support them in resisting this runway. As they never tire of reminding us, Heathrow is one of the most famous airports in the world. It's about to get a lot more famous. This will be the biggest battleground in Europe in the fight against climate change. Any business linked to Heathrow, in any way, is a legitimate target. We pledge, out of solidarity with locals and people affected around the world, that we will not let this happen. This runway is undeliverable.
Expansion plans at London City Airport have been announced and the government is expected to decide on where to build a new runway, probably at either Heathrow or Gatwick this October. These plans are devastating for local pollution, noise and for climate change.
In solidarity with local and international groups, and in defence of the climate and people all over the world, Reclaim the Power is calling for people to take safe and peaceful action against the aviation industry. Join us for a family-friendly flashmob and critical mass bike block at a London airport on Saturday 1st October.
The exact location is being kept secret, to keep the authorities on their toes – sign up now to receive more information. Our mass action is just one part of a wave of international action planned to take place around the same time of year. In order for this action to be effective, *we need at least 400 people to take part*. We need to send a strong clear message that we cannot have any new runways in the UK if we are serious about tackling climate change.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ >> WILL YOU JOIN US IF HUNDREDS OF OTHERS PLEDGE TO COME?
GREAT! Here’s what to do next:
1) Add your email address to the pledge platform here: http://tinyurl.com/jxsxkyf, so that we know when we reach our target of 400, and so that we can let you know more info as it’s revealed. The more people who sign up, the more others will want to join, and the more effective we can be.
2) Get yourself along to one of the info-sharing / legal briefing / action training events, to ensure you are fully prepared to participate. Details of the events can be found here: https://reclaimthepower.org.uk/events/
3) Start thinking about who your affinity group is and what you’re going to bring and wear (see below for suggestions)
4) Join this Facebook event, and share it with all your friend.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~ WHATS THE PLAN? ~
This will be a fun, colourful and safe event that everyone is invited to participate in. An action consensus has been agreed to set the safe parameters of this day of action. The health and safety of airport staff, passengers and ourselves are of paramount importance and a top priority, and just in case it is not clear we will not be going on to any runways! https://reclaimthepower.org.uk/aviation-flashmob-critical-mass/aviation-action-consensus/
Visually and creatively we will focus on the polluting aviation industry, the affluent minority who are driving the so-called ‘need’ for aviation expansion, and the 300,000+ people who are already suffering from the effects climate change, and who are paying the price for this convenient luxury lifestyle, with their lives.
There will be three main ways that people can participate in the day of action, individually and as part of affinity groups that will have autonomy over how they operate.
(1) BLOCK A will be family-friendly, in a publicly accessible *inside* area. Creative themes (for dressing up) will be:
* The "15%" – the minority of 'flash-the-cash', 'binge’ frequent flyers who we know are driving the so-called ‘need’ for airport expansion in the UK
* The tax man - and the heavy subsidisies to the aviation industry
* A die-in - representing the 300,000+ people who are already dying each year, all over the world, from climate change related causes
* Speech & thought bubbles - to convey the key messages in a creative and clever way
* Red lines – aviation expansion is crossing a red line for a just and liveable planet, and people are paying with their lives (wear red)
(2) BLOCK B
will consist of cyclists, and will be in a publicly accessible *outside* area. Creative themes (for dressing up) will be:
* Reimagining the alternatives – what could a future without aviation look like?
(3) Autonomous affinity groups are also invited to take creative action elsewhere, as part of the day of action, adhering to the same action consensus.
After years of delay, the controversial announcement of a new runway at Gatwick or Heathrow is expected this October. It comes just months after the green light was given to expansion at London City Airport, and makes a mockery of our own legally binding commitments for action on climate change. Clearly, more planes means more catastrophic climate change. It is time to fight back.
Air travel is by far the most carbon-intensive form of transport, and is the fastest growing source of carbon emissions. Yet, climate change is still remarkably absent from any discussion around aviation expansion. Moreover, aviation is unbelievably absent from any discussions, agreements and targets around tackling climate change! It was excluded from the Paris Agreement signed by the World's nations at the UN COP21 last December, and is even exempt from the UK's own Climate Change Act 2008. It is an industry that benefits from huge tax subsidies and unprecedented legal and regulatory loopholes, and is threatening the lives of communities both locally and globally, as well as the very planet we all live upon.