What We Stand for

13 Steps for a Just Transport System and for Rapidly Reducing Aviation

The Problem

Aviation is the most climate damaging form of transport [1] and one of the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions [2]. In the next two decades, the industry expects a doubling of air passengers [3]. A massive global wave of aviation expansion is underway, with about 1200 airport infrastructure projects planned [4]. Many airport projects are among the biggest, most expensive mega-projects, some being imposed by governments serving corporate interests.

The Dilemma

While less than 10% of the world population have ever set foot on an aircraft [5], it is mostly non-flyers who bear the brunt of the climate crisis and the negative effects of airport expansion like land grabbing, noise and health issues. Communities in the Global South [6], which have barely contributed to the crisis, are affected most. The problem of aviation is part of a bigger story of injustice: It is contrary to the need to eliminate fossil fuel use; it is tied to the military-industrial complex; it also is connected with the undue influence of big business on public policy, including trade, economic development and climate. Aviation remains fossil fuel dependent, yet the industry promotes false solutions such as new aircraft technologies which do not yet exist. Also offsets (see below) and biofuels fail to reduce emissions whilst endangering food supplies, biodiversity and human rights.

Who We Are

We are people, communities and organisations from around the world, dealing with the multiple impacts of aviation: Some of us are directly affected by airport infrastructure and the negative health impacts of pollution and noise from aircraft. Some of us are climate justice activists and young people who want to live our lives on a healthy planet. Some of us live in communities defending our homes, farmland and ecosystems from land grabbing for new airports, airport expansion, biofuel production or projects for offsetting aviation emissions. Some of us are academics, trade unionists and workers in the transport sector, as well as environmental and transport organisations from around the world, and from initiatives fostering alternative modes of transport such as railways.

Business as usual is not an option. We therefore stand for the following 13 steps to transform transport, society and the economy to be just and environmentally sound.

What It Takes

1. A Just Transition

We must end over-reliance on the most polluting, climate-harming forms of transport driven by a globalised corporate economy. This requires negotiations and collaborative planning for a transition that will not be made at the expense of workers in the relevant sectors – although it does include changes in what we do and how we work. It needs replacement of failed privatisations with climate-friendly local initiatives, good working conditions, public ownership and democratic accountability. To achieve this in the face of a growth-oriented aviation industry also requires overcoming corporate power. We need a transport system that is democratically regulated and planned, promotes and supports the common good and that is integrated and ecological.

2. A shift to other modes of transport

We must shift from harmful modes of transport to more environmentally sound ones. Short-haul and some medium-distance flights can be shifted to trains in regions where relevant railway infrastructure exists, or otherwise onto buses/coaches. Trains don’t necessarily need to be high-speed but daytime and night services should be attractive, affordable and powered by renewable energy [7]. Also ships and ferries can be an alternative, if their energy source is “carbon free” (wind, battery-electric, hydrogen or ammonia).

3. An economy of short distances

Freight transport accounts for a significant share of carbon emissions. Instead of aiming to triple the volume of transport by 2050 [8], we need to reduce the demand for goods from far away and develop localised economies. The aim here is climate protection, not nationalist-style protectionism. This can and needs to happen alongside maintaining multi-cultural and open minded societies.

4. Enable changing habits and modes of living

We must challenge social and workplace norms that encourage excessive air travel. Leisure trips can generally be in-region or slow-travel. Online conferences can replace many working trips. We must question the growing habit of travelling to far-away regions, weekend trips by plane and mass tourism which harms local cultures and ecosystems.

5. Land rights and human rights

In order to stop the ongoing dispossession, pollution, destruction and ecocide caused by the aviation industry and connected activities, the rights of Indigenous Peoples, local communities, peasants [9] and women, regarding the governance and tenure of their lands and territories should be fully recognised and respected. This also helps ensure food sovereignty and to protect the livelihoods, work, culture and customs of peoples. Persistent, health-threatening noise from overflying near airports should be reduced.

6. Climate Justice

Achieving Climate Justice is more than a legal process. It requires societies to prioritise a “good life for all” [10] above profits for the few. This includes justice among all – now and for future generations. It also implies the struggle against all forms of discrimination based on gender, origin, race, class, religion, or sexual orientation [11]. It means that the Global North [12] and the global wealthy are responsible for a larger share of the effort to combat the climate crisis and to mitigate the consequences, including financial payments for liability and redress. Climate Justice also means that people from the Global South have a right to resist neo-colonial climate policies like offsetting emissions, geo-engineering and biofuels (see Steps 11, 12, 13).

7. Strong political commitments

To limit global warming to 1.5 ° C, and to leave fossil fuels in the ground, we cannot rely on voluntary promises. We need binding and enforceable rules as well as clearly defined limits for greenhouse gas emissions. It is necessary that international aviation emissions are part of national emission reduction efforts inside the UNFCCC [13] process and that ongoing corporate capture of public policies be ended. At all levels – locally, nationally, and regionally – we need binding targets, transparency and meaningful democratic participation. While global targets are important, stricter regional and local measures and regulations are also necessary, such as kerosene taxes, VAT [14], ticket taxes, frequent flyer levies, aircraft environmental standards, caps on the number of flights and moratoriums on airport infrastructure.

What Must be Avoided

8. New airports and airport expansion

A moratorium on the construction and expansion of airports is necessary. This includes airport-centric commercial and industrial developments serving aviation growth, including aerotropolis [15] (airport cities) and Special Economic Zone projects. Communities that would be isolated without access to air travel must be considered and ecological ways of connecting them should be sought.

9. Privileges for the aviation industry

Aviation should no longer receive special advantage over other transport sectors. Airlines, airports, and aircraft manufacturers get huge subsidies and tax breaks – the main reason why many flights are so cheap. Few countries tax kerosene and there are rarely any VAT or passenger taxes. Some areas of concern include: airline bailouts; subsidies for flights; debt; aircraft manufacturing and purchase; export credits; and state aid on new airport infrastructure, amongst others [16].

10. Air travel industry marketing

Systemic incentives for air travel should end. These include flight-related ads or other marketing by the travel, airline and aircraft manufacturing industries. Frequent Flyer Programs (FFP) should end as they strongly reinforce flying as a status symbol. [17] These strong actions have precedent. Some nations banned cigarette ads decades ago, despite the ubiquity of smoking (and the ads) and the perceived rights of smokers. Some countries have already banned domestic FFP [18].

11. Offsetting

The current mitigation strategy of using offsets is a false solution being pushed by the aviation industry and its captured regulators [19]. Airlines and airports rely predominantly on the misleading premise that instead of reducing emissions, they can offset them by buying carbon credits from others – like reforestation projects or hydro-electric dams that are claimed to lead to emissions savings. Airports also often try to legitimise their destruction of ecosystems by offsetting the biodiversity loss. Carbon offsets do not deliver real emissions reductions [20], and biodiversity losses cannot in reality be compensated [21]. Offset projects often lead to local conflicts or land grabbing. This is especially the case with land- or forest-based projects like REDD+. [22] Offsetting is unjust and distracts from the urgent need to reduce, not shift, destruction.

12. Biofuels

Substituting fossil kerosene with biofuels is a false and highly destructive prospect. Biofuels cannot be supplied at the large scale the industry would require [23]. Substantial use of biofuels in aircraft would (both directly and indirectly) drive a massive increase in deforestation and peat drainage and thereby cause vast carbon emissions. It would also lead to land grabbing and human rights violations, including forced eviction and loss of food sovereignty. [24]

13. The illusion of technological fixes

We must avoid the lure of the aviation industry’s greenwashing. Future technical improvements for aircraft and operations have been identified and should continue to be researched but we must recognise that these are and will be insufficient to overcome aviation’s emissions problems. The forecasted efficiency gains in fuel use are exceeded by historic, current and planned growth rates of air travel and air freight (a phenomenon known as the ‘rebound effect’). Step-changes in aviation technology are uncertain and will not come into effect until decades from now. Given the urgency of emissions reductions, relying on questionable scenarios like a sector-wide introduction of electric planes is too risky and diverts focus away from the immediate emission cuts needed [25]. Even future electrofuel propelled aircraft would be harmful without strong sustainability criteria and a reduction in aviation. [26] For the decades to come, decarbonised air traffic or “carbon neutral growth” will therefore remain an illusion.

Our Position Paper as PDF’s

The Signatories

So far 263 organisations or groups support the position paper “Stay Grounded. 13 Steps for a Just Transport System and for Rapidly Reducing Aviation”

The 263 signatories

  • 2degrees artivism (Portugal)
  • 350.org Seattle (USA)
  • Abibimman Foundation (Ghana)
  • ADRA – Association de Défense des Riverains de l’Aéroport de Bâle-Mulhouse (France)
  • ADVOCNAR (France)
  • Actiecomité Vlieghinder Baarn (The Netherlands)
  • Action Non-Violente – COP21(ANV-COP21) (France)
  • Aircraft Noise Action Group (UK)
  • Aire Medellín (Colombia)
  • Aktionsbündnis “aufgeMUCkt” (Germany)
  • Aktionsbündnis Wachstumswende Bremen (Germany)
  • Aktionsgruppen stoppa Brommaflyget (Sweden)
  • All India Forum of Forest Movements (India)
  • Alofa Tuvalu (France & Tuvalu)
  • Alternatiba (France)
  • Am Boden Bleiben (Germany)
  • Amigos da Terra Brasil (Friends of the Earth Brazil)
  • Amigos de la Tierra (Friends of the Earth Spain)
  • Arbeitskreis Flugverkehr und Umwelt (Germany)
  • Arka Kinari (Indonesia)
  • Arkana (Spain)
  • Art Not Oil Coalition (UK)
  • Associació de Veïnes i Veïns del Clot-Camp de l’Arpa (Catalonia)
  • Associació Plataforma contra el Soroll i la Contanminació química dels avions – PROU SOROLL (Catalonia)
  • Association of Doctors for the Environment-ISDE (Italy)
  • ATERRA (Portugal)
  • Attac Austria
  • Attac France
  • Attac Germany
  • Attac Spain
  • Attac Wallonie Bruxelles (Belgium)
  • Auckland The Plane Truth (New Zealand)
  • Aviation Impact Reform (USA)
  • AXO Southampton (UK)
  • Back on Track (Europe)
  • BAW Bürgerinitiativen für Fluglärmschutz in Hamburg und Schleswig-Holstein (Germany)
  • Behoud Kemnade en Waalse Water (The Netherlands)
  • Beina på Jorda (Stay Grounded Norway)
  • Bergwaldprojekt e.V. (Germany)
  • Bevar Jordforbindelsen (Denmark)
  • BBI Bündnis der Bürgerinitiativen – Kein Flughafenausbau – Nachtflugverbot von 22 bis 6 Uhr (Germany)
  • BI gegen Fluglärm Raunheim (Germany)
  • BIG-Fluglärm Hamburg e.V.  – Dachverband der Bürgerinitiativen gegen Fluglärm e.V. (Germany)
  • Biofuelwatch (UK / USA)
  • Bond Beter Leefmilieu (Belgium)
  • Bristol Airport Action Network (BAAN) (UK)
  • BUND – Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland e.V. (Friends of the Earth Germany)
  • BUNDjugend (Germany)
  • BürgerInnen für Transparenz, Kostenwahrheit und Nachhaltigkeit in der Luftfahrt (Austria)
  • Campaign Against Climate Change (UK)
  • Campaign against Climate Change Trade Union Group (UK)
  • Can Decreix (France)
  • Can Pujades (Spain)
  • cBalance Solutions Hub (India)
  • CDO – UGent (Belgium)
  • Centar za životnu sredinu (Friends of the Earth Bosnia and Herzegovina)
  • Center for Biological Diversity (USA)
  • Centre for Environmental Justice (Sri Lanka)
  • CIDAC – Centro de Intervenção para o Desenvolvimento Amílcar Cabral (Portugal)
  • Citizens For Quiet Skies (USA)
  • citizens’ initiative Rauchenwarth (Austria
  • Climate Action Moreland (Australia)
  • Climacció (Catalonia)
  • Climáximo (Portugal)
  • Colectivo Asamblea contra la Turistización de Sevilla (CACTUS) (Spain)
  • Colectivo VientoSur (Chile)
  • Collectif Non au terminal 4 (France)
  • Collective Climate Justice (Switzerland)
  • Col·lectiu Punt 6 (Spain)
  • Com & Sobriété (France)
  • Comitato per la riduzione dell’impatto ambientale aeroporto di Treviso (Italy)
  • CommunityAIR (Canada)
  • Community Empowerment and Social Justice (CEMSOJ) Network (Nepal)
  • Conseil de développement durable de Perpignan (France)
  • Coordinadora de Pueblos y Organizaciones del Oriente del Estado de México en Defensa de la Tierra, el Agua y su Cultura (Mexico)
  • Corporate Europe Observartory (EU)
  • Dachverband der unabhängigen Bürgerinitiativen gegen den Bau der 3. Piste am Flughafen Wien (Austria)
  • Déboulonneurs (France)
  • Dejemos los pies sobre la tierra (Peru)
  • Deutscher Naturschutzring DNR (Germany)
  • Digo Bikas Institute (Nepal)
  • DKA – Dreikönigsaktion (Austria)
  • Dos Spotters (Spain)
  • Dutch Foodprint Group (The Netherlands)
  • Ecologistas en Acción (Spain)
  • ECI Fairosene (EU)
  • ECOLISE Remote-ready (Europe)
  • ECOMUNIDADES, Red Ecologista Autónoma de la Cuenca de Mèxico
  • Ejatlas team (Spain)
  • Elburg Vliegwijzer, lid van Samenw Actiegroepen TL (The Netherlands)
  • EnvJustice team (Spain)
  • Ethik-Labor (Switzerland)
  • European ATTAC Network
  • Explane (Germany)
  • Extinction Rebellion Bizkaia (Spain)
  • fairunterwegs (Switzerland)
  • FamiliesforfutureBCN (Spain)
  • Fellow Travellers (UK)
  • fern (Belgium)
  • FIAN – Food First Information and Action Network (Austria)
  • Finance & Trade Watch (Austria)
  • Five10Twelve (UK)
  • Flight Free Australia
  • Flight Free Canada 2020
  • Flight Free Deutschland (Germany)
  • Flight Free UK
  • Flight Free USA
  • Flight Free Vermont (USA)
  • Flyglarm Arlanda (Sweden)
  • FNAUT, fédération nationale des associations d’usagers des transportsn (France)
  • Forest Observatory (Morocco)
  • Forum Civique Européen (Austria, Switzerland, France, Germany)
  • Forum Ökologie & Papier (Germany)
  • Foundation Living with the Earth (The Netherlands)
  • Förderverein Wachstumswende e.V. (Germany)
  • France Nature Environnement (France)
  • Frente Amplio No Partidista en contra del Nuevo Aeropuerto y otros Megaproyectos en la Cuenca del Valle de México
  • Friends of the Earth Australia
  • Friends of the Earth Finland
  • Friends of the Earth International
  • Friends of the Earth Norway
  • GAAM Global Anti-Aerotropolis Movement (UK/Thailand)
  • GAIA – Grupo de Acção e Intervenção Ambiental (Portugal)
  • Gato sueco editoral (Spain)
  • Geen vliegreizen.nl (Netherlands)
  • Gegenstrom Berlin (Germany)
  • G.I.G.N.V – Groupe d’Intervention des Grenouilles Non-Violentes (France)
  • GLOBAL 2000 (Friends of the Earth Austria)
  • Global Forest Coalition (international)
  • Global Justice Now (UK)
  • GOB – Grup Balear d’Ornitologia e Defensa de la Naturalesa (Spain)
  • Groene Locomotief (Belgium)
  • Group for Action on Leeds Bradford Airport (GALBA) (UK)
  • Grow Heathrow (UK)
  • Guerrilla Foundation (Germany)
  • HACAN East (UK)
  • Hoog over Zwolle (The Netherlands)
  • Il est encore temps Coutances (France)
  • Initiative gegen Fluglärm in Rheinhessen e.V. (Germany)
  • Initiative Psychologie im Umweltschutz e.V. (Germany)
  • International climate safe travel institute (New Zealand)
  • Jordens Vänner / Friends of the Earth Sweden
  • Karad Airport Expansion Opposing Task Force (India)
  • Kastelli Sattelites (Greece)
  • Kesatuan Nelayan Tradisional Indonesia (Indonesia Traditional Fisherfolk Union)
  • Klankbordgroep Schiphol/A1(A6) Gooise Meren (The Netherlands)
  • Klima*Kollektiv (Germany)
  • Klimaneustart Berlin (Germany)
  • Klimaschutz-jetzt.de (Germany)
  • Koalition Luftverkehr Umwelt und Gesundheit (Switzerland)
  • Konzeptwerk Neue Ökonomie (Germany)
  • Korea Federation for Environmental Movements (South Korea)
  • Labor für Kunst und nachhaltige Bildung (Germany)
  • LAG Ökologische Plattform NRW bei DIE LINKE (Germany)
  • Land Over Landings (Canada)
  • LIDECS (Mexico)
  • Liegveld Lelystad (The Netherlands)
  • Leave it in the Ground Initiative – Lingo (Germany)
  • Leeds Medact (UK)
  • LEV muss leben! (Germany)
  • Linkswende jetzt (Austria)
  • Loving the atmosphere (Germany)
  • Luonto-Liiton Ilmastoryhmä (The Finnish Nature League’s Climate Group)
  • MA Programme in Social Entrepreneurship, Goldsmiths, University of London (UK)
  • Milieuendefensie Leiden e.o. (The Netherlands)
  • Mouvement d’Action Paysanne (Belgium)
  • Mouvement Utopia (France)
  • Morar em Lisboa (Portugal)
  • Movimento dos trabalhadores sem teto-rio grande do sul (MTST) (Brazil)
  • National Federation of Small Fisherfolk Organizations in the Philippines (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas)
  • National Forum for Advocacy (Nepal)
  • netzwerk n e.V. (Germany)
  • Netzwerk Ökosozialismus (Germany)
  • New Internationalist (UK)
  • New York Climate Action Group (USA)
  • No Badgerys Creek Airport (Australia)
  • No Jets Santa Monica Airport (USA)
  • No 3rd Runway Coalition (UK)
  • NOAH Friends of the Earth Denmark
  • Northern Forests Defence (Turkey)
  • ÖBV-Via Campesina Austria
  • Organisation Mondiale pour la Protection de l’Environnement OMPE (France)
  • Oregon Aviation Watch (USA)
  • Ośrodek Działań Ekologicznych “Źródła” (Poland)
  • Oui au train de nuit (France)
  • Our Climate Declaration (New Zealand)
  • Ökohaus e.V. Rostock (Germany)
  • Ökovernetzungsförderverein (Austria)
  • Paguyuban Warga Penolak Penggusuran Kulon-Progo (Indonesia)
  • ParentsForFuture Austria (Austria)
  • Periskop (Austria)
  • Parks not Planes (Canada)
  • Plan B.Earth – ‘Plan B’ (UK)
  • Plane Sense for Long Island (US)
  • Plane Stupid (UK)
  • Platform Vliegoverlast Amsterdam (The Netherlands)
  • Possible (former 10:10 Climate Action) (UK)
  • Protect the Forest (Sweden)
  • Protect our Winters (POW) Austria
  • Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union – (UK)
  • Quiet Skies Puget Sound (US)
  • Rapid Decarbonization Group (Canada)
  • Rådet for Bæredygtig Trafik (Denmark)
  • Re:Common (Italy)
  • Reclaim the Power (UK)
  • Red Afrodescendiente de América Latina y el Caribe de Justicia Climática (República Dominicana)
  • REDD-Monitor (international)
  • REFEDD (France)
  • Reflorestar Portugal
  • Regenwald-Institut e.V. (Germany)
  • Reel News (UK)
  • Research & Degrowth France
  • Research & Degrowth Spain
  • Réseau Action Climat France
  • Residents Against Western Sydney Airport Inc. (RAWSA)
  • Résistance à l’agression publicitaire (France)
  • Résistance Climatique (France)
  • Restons les pieds sur Terre (France)
  • Rising Tide UK
  • Robin Wood (Germany)
  • Røst AIR (Norway)
  • Sail to the COP (Netherlands)
  • Satukata Institute (Indonesia)
  • Say No to Expansion of Aviation (The Netherlands)
  • Save Maldives Campaign (Maldives)
  • Schöne Städte (Germany)
  • Schokofahrt (Germany)
  • SchipholWatch (The Netherlands)
  • Schiphol Werkgroep Amstelveen/Buitenveldert (The Netherlands)
  • Sky Justice National Network (USA)
  • SkyRebellion (UK)
  • Socialistisk Ungdoms Front (Denmark)
  • SOL – Menschen für Solidarität, Ökologie und Lebensstil (Austria)
  • Stay on the Ground (France)
  • Stichting Milieu front Eijsden (Netherlands)
  • Stichting Tuinstad Buitenveldert (The Netherlands)
  • Stop Bristol Airport Expansion (UK)
  • Stop Expansion of Aviation (The Netherlands)
  • Stop Groei Vliegverkeer (The Netherlands)
  • Stop OAK expansion (US)
  • Stop Stansted Expansion (UK)
  • Stop de Wantoestanden in de Luchtvaartsector (The Netherlands)
  • Socialistisk Ungdoms Front (Denmark)
  • SustainAbility (PhD initiative) (Germany)
  • SW-EssexFight-the-Flights (UK)
  • Swiss Youth for Climate (Groupe régional Lausanne)
  • System Change, not Climate Change! (Austria)
  • TaCa – Agir pour le Climat (France)
  • The Climate Mobilization Montgomery Co Md chapter (USA)
  • The Corner House (UK)
  • Terran e.V. (Germany)
  • Time to Explane (Belgium)
  • TNI – Transnational Institute (The Netherlands)
  • Tourism Investigation & Monitoring Team (Thailand)
  • Trade Unions for Energy Democracy (USA)
  • Transition-Büro Lychen (Germany)
  • transform Magazin (Germany)
  • Treibhauseffekt.de (Germany)
  • TSSA – Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (UK)
  • Turismografías (Spain)
  • TWN – Third World Network (Malaysia)
  • UCU trade union branch, Queen Alexandra College (UK)
  • Último Recurso (Portugal)
  • Umanotera (Slovenia)
  • umverkehR (Switzerland)
  • UNI.CO.MAL. (Italy)
  • vegan4future e.V. (Germany)
  • Verkehrs-Club der Schweiz (Switzerland)
  • Vote No Heathrow (UK)
  • We Stay On The Ground (Sweden)
  • Welthaus Innsbruck (Austria)
  • Werkgroep Duurzaamheid van de Raad van Kerken Oude-IJsselstreek (The Netherlands)
  • Werkgroep Voetafdruk Nederland (The Netherlands)
  • WILOO Vzw (Belgium)
  • Zero (Portugal)
  • Zeroport (Spain)
  • Zomer Zonder Vliegen (Belgium)

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