Mass civil disobedience at Belgium airports and protests against destructive mega projects in Mexico highlighting aviation as the pinnacle of climate injustice

by | 16 Dec 2023 | Actions, Members, Press Release, Private Jets

  • Activists from across Europe took action at Liège Airport
  • Hundreds of activists have been arrested in Antwerp after being targeted by police
  • In Mexico, several actions are taking place against the new Tulum International Airport

16th December 2023: Today, supporters of Code Rouge/Rood from several European countries have entered Lìege Airport in a peaceful direct action to denounce the injustice and climate impact of aviation and demand a drastic reduction of flights.

This happened just after hundreds of activists were arrested around Antwerp, while preparing to block Antwerp International airport, one of the biggest private jet airports in Belgium. Despite police targetting activists, a large group managed to enter Antwerp Airport and achieved success: no private jets took off from Kortrijk or Antwerp today.

Ruth Marie, spokesperson for the Code Rouge movement, said: “Private jets are the pinnacle of climate injustice and there is absolutelly no reason for their existance in a climate and cost of living crisis. The frequent flying habits of the super-rich are a huge driver of collapse and the opitomy of this injustice: 1% of the global population is responsible for 50% of aviation emissions. It’s time for the super-rich to quit their destructive toys and luxury habits and stop burning up our planet. It’s time to ban private jets.”

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Image credits: Code Rouge/Rood

At Liège Airport, Europe’s fastest growing cargo airport and the main European logistics hub for e-commerce firm Alibaba, 600 activists are preventing planes from unloading the imported cargo onto distribution trucks. They are denouncing the expansion of the airport and the growth of air freight for mass consumption, with major impacts on health, the local economy and the climate.

Leo Tubbax, spokesperson for Stay Grounded member Stop Alibaba & co, said: “Liège Airport is the fastest growing cargo airport in Europe and they still want to continue expanding it. This is madness: airport expansion must stop, here and everywhere, and air traffic needs to be drastically reduced, through a process of just transition that prioritises workers’ safety and livelihoods. At the same time, we need to shift towards an economy of short distances that enables the reduction of air freight.”

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Image credits: Code Rouge/Rood

The protests are part of a mass civil disobedience action announced by Code Rouge targeting the aviation industry. Their demands, include a ban on private jets and short haul flights, the end of subsidies for the aviation sector and its greenwashing, the decrease of air freight and an end to all airport expansion in Belgium – measures that need to be paired with a just transition for workers and wide investment in public and affordable grounded transport.

In Mexico, another wave of protests shows a different face of airport conflicts: activists are denouncing the new International Tulum airport, highlighting its connection to military projects and US presence. They condemn the fact that it’s marketed as a ‘green airport’ despite its huge environmental impacts and the way it disregards and jeopardises Mayan people’s interests.

Angel Sulub, spokesperson for Permanecer en la Tierra, said: “This airport and connected megaprojects, such as the Tren Maya, are ecocidal enterprizes, having led to the cutting of 5.7 millon trees. It is increasing the presence of military forces in the region and violates the right to free, prior and informed consent of the Mayan peoples. It illustrates dramatically the scope of neocolonial global injustice that is part of the aviation and tourism sectors and of a world of globalized hypermobility.”

These actions take place days after another UN Climate Change Conference, which world leaders swarmed to on private jets to discuss solutions for the climate crisis. Besides failing, once again, to establish binding commitments to phase out fossil fuels, COP28 continued to leave international aviation emissions out of the agreements, making clear how much a strong climate justice movement is needed to push for real solutions.

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In Belgium, the action will be followed by a march on 17th December. The protests mark the end of a year full of diverse and impactful actions opposing aviation and demanding it’s reduction, particularly around private jets and luxury emissions, entering 2024 with a growing international movement.

High-quality photos and videos available here.

Contacts
Stay Grounded press office: Hannah, press@stay-grounded.org, (+43) 0670 550 09 34