The Stay Grounded network, together with civil society organisations and the Institute for Ecological Sciences and Technology ICTA in Barcelona, organized the conference “Degrowth of Aviation”. The conference brought together 200 people from social movements, NGOs and academia in order to discuss concrete measures and strategies to reduce air traffic. As Barcelona is one of the cities getting overcrowded by tourism, involving serious environmental, health, housing and other social problems, special links were made to movements for a just and environmentally sound tourism.
Why this conference?
Since green growth and carbon neutral flights are an illusion, it is time to start a degrowth process of aviation. How can this look like? What are possible policy instruments that civil society should fight for, in order to put an end to the massive privileges of the aviation industry, and to bring forward a just and environmentally friendly transport system?
Fridays program was open to public with multiple workshops and a panel on interlinks between aviation and tourism. On Saturday, expert working groups discussed concrete measures how to reduce aviation. On Sunday, there was be a joint protest against the expansion of the Barcelona airport, and a meeting to sum up results and look ahead.
This was not a typical academic conference, so papers needed not be submitted. The conference combined expertise from academia and civil society. Briefing papers on the different instruments to reduce aviation were prepared collectively beforehand and fed into in depth discussions in working groups.
Seven working groups discussed pro‘s and con‘s of different strategies to reduce aviation:
1. Taxes on kerosene and tickets // 2. Frequent flyer levy // 3. Limits on domestic or short haul flights // 4. Institutional changes of travel policies // 5. Reducing airport infrastructure // 6. Fostering alternatives // 7. Touristic degrowth
On Friday, the workshops and panel discussion were open to the public. Nine parallel workshops informed about the issues of aviation and mass tourism, mapped conflicts, discussed visions for future travel, and brainstormed ideas for creative actions around the topic.
Mass Tourism in Barcelona
Barcelona is the fourth most-visited European city, the first destination of Mediterranean cruise ships and the seventh largest European airport. While there were 3,7 million bookings in 1990, in 2016, Barcelona had more than 31 million bookings. Barcelona’s tourism industry leads to very serious impacts and conflicts for the local society and the environment – social movements raise critique.
The conference was supported by: