Stay Grounded in review: 2022 – A year of actions for reducing aviation

by | 27 Jan 2023 | Stay Grounded activities

It is hard to put the many things that happened in our growing network in 2022 in a nutshell! But that being said, here comes our (surely incomplete) best attempt to give an overview over the activities and achievements of the past year. By our activities, we mean the activities of our global network of over 200 member initiatives and our individual members, especially those active in our regional networks or regional groups as well as content working groups and those who contributed to our countless discussions, the volunteers who gave their time and skills, our “Turtles” coordination group and our team of campaigners.

…a given social movement isn’t a list of organizations, or campaigns, or even individuals; it’s the set of relationships between organizations, campaigns, individuals etc. – Farhad Imbrahimi*

In 2022, the aviation industry pushed hard to return to its destructive pre-pandemic business as usual and greenwash its growth plans. Our focus as a network therefore, was to delegitimize the industry’s greenwashing, grow our movement and mutual solidarity, and improve our framing and communication. Alongside this we developed strategies and powerful actions together with our network to build political pressure for change. Last year we also experienced how the broader climate-justice movement (re)developed an appetite for taking action on aviation.

Reframing aviation as an issue of justice

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An important step in shifting the discourse on aviation was the publication of our communication guide “Common Destination: Reframing aviation to ensure a safe landing and lay the tracks towards a fair planet” (in English, Spanish, French and German – online and print) which was distributed to more than 800 organisations. Our network has been able to use the narratives, facts, infographics and tools for supporting and shaping their communication and actions on aviation!

In June, we also launched our multiplier trainings which garnered 133 participants from all over Europe and beyond. Out of that we’ve started building up a growing force of trainers to communicate on the injustices of aviation who can be booked for workshops or events. We also have a network of consultants ready to help organizations implement changes in travel policies we recommend.

Expect. More. Action!

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© Marten van Dijl / Greenpeace Nederland

In 2021 our global network urged us to return to being more action oriented to increase political pressure and spread the facts and positions we had elaborated in the past years. Following suit, in October, together with our local member N.A.D.A., we organised an action conference in Lille, France with 150 plus participants from all over Europe and beyond who joined in person and online. As part of the conference, we took our message to the streets, with an action against the planned expansion at Lille airport and the media paid attention!

Last year Stay Grounded and the Environmental Justice team collaborated once again for updating the map of airport conflicts and injustices in the Environmental Justice Atlas (English/Spanish). There are now more than 100 detailed case studies, and through our collaboration, we also put efforts into focusing on the role of women in airport conflicts.

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Map of Airports in Indigenous Territories

With our flexible action pot, we supported our members in Paraguay, Mexico, France, Germany and UK in taking action and bolstering their mobilisation efforts. The different actions and activities included a climate camp, demonstrations, a blockade, creative actions, a community event as well as information distribution.

We shared and celebrated countless other actions initiated by our members such as the rally for night trains in Portugal, Spain and France. Most recently, we also joined the Make them Pay campaign, which incentivised blockades at 11 international airports with the help of hundreds of activists and 129 scientists to push the governments concerned to ban private jets and tax frequent flyers. Revenues from such taxes could fund climate adaptation measures and compensate countries which are vulnerable to climate change.

Countering green lies

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To counter the greenwashing of aviation and create pressure to implement measures for aviation reduction, we also developed a new fact sheet in our series for revealing what lies behind “net zero” targets that industries and governments are using in nearly every climate strategy. We also challenged misleading aviation advertisements by joining Brandalism and the Subvertisers International’s week of action with activists hacking 500 advertising sites in 15 European cities. In addition, we supported a major success against misleading airline ads, busting Austrian Airlines’ claims about CO₂-neutral flying.

Finally, with the support of our network, we reacted to political developments concerning the aviation industry such as an open letter to the Council of the European Union to Stop Ignoring Two-Thirds of Aviation’s Climate Impact; an analysis of ICCT’s study on a global frequent flyer levy; and published an official reaction to ICAO’s insufficient climate target. 

Strengthening the network

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In 2022, we welcomed 22 new member initiatives. Our network now represents over 200 initiatives on all continents collaborating for a degrowth of aviation and for a just mobility system! Further, our thematic working groups, informed by the expert opinions from network members, co-created a number of our publications such as the “Guide to engaging aviation workers and trade unions”. At the initiative of members from the Dominican Republic, Nepal and Mexico in particular, a new working group on tourism and aviation was set up to analyse the role we can usefully play in this major issue. The new working group already contributed to the Climate Justice Week for Latin America and the Caribbean – Peoples’ Voices.

Throughout 2022, we continued the process of increasing the ownership of Global South Stay Grounded members in an attempt to begin decolonising the structures of our network. We have done this through trying to reduce the presence of European-centric topics in the general emails lists. We also do this by focusing our activities and fundraising efforts on the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region. In line with this, we also organised a webinar on airport resistance in Peru, launched a report on a agrofuel refinery in Paraguay and a report on airport-related conflicts in Mexico together with our regional members. In 2022 we also worked to strengthen and expand the regional networks of South- / East(ern) Asia (SEA). We put together two workshops designed for the specific regions on the mapping of Airport-related Resistance and Injustices. While recognizing that decolonising our structures is a long and challenging process, we thank all our members who supported our shared learning with critical and constructive feedback!

Looking to 2023, we plan to build on the results of our action conference and join the Make them Pay campaign with even more capacities, we will need to strengthen and expand our movement to take meaningful actions and increase the pressure!

Thank you for your support! The path ahead is not easy. Let’s continue to support each other and work together in solidarity! Let’s be careful with each other so we can be dangerous together!

*found in “Emergent Strategy” by adrienne maree brown