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Dutch Climate Activists Block Private Jets From Taking Off, Over 100 Arrested

Over 500 protesters called out the high emissions lifestyle of the uber-rich and demanded an end to private air travel.

Milieudefensie, Extinction Rebellion, Greenpeace and other organizations' members sit in front of an aircraft during a climate action protest at Schiphol Airport, near Amsterdam on November 5, 2022.

More than 500 environmental and social justice campaigners on Saturday occupied the runway and blocked private jets from taking off from a major airport in the Netherlands to call attention to the highly-polluting travel practices of the uber-rich in the face of runaway climate catastrophe.

The organizers of the protest said participants — many of whom were arrested by police for their actions — said the plan was “to keep air traffic from the private jet terminal grounded for as long as possible.”

Just ahead of the United Nations climate talks known as COP27 kicking off in Egypt this week, the joint action by Extinction Rebellion and Greenpeace Netherlands targeted the landing strip used by private jets at the Schiphol Airport, one of the largest and busiest in Europe.

“We’ve been campaigning to stop Schiphol’s large-scale pollution for years, and with good reason. The airport should be reducing its flight movements, but instead it’s building a brand new terminal. The wealthy elite are using more private jets than ever, which is the most polluting way to fly. This is typical of the aviation industry, which doesn’t seem to see that it is putting people at risk by aggravating the climate crisis. This has to stop. We want fewer flights, more trains and a ban on unnecessary short-haul flights and private jets,” said Dewi Zloch on behalf of Greenpeace Netherlands in a statement.

The Marechaussee arrest a protester at 'SOS for the climate' action at Schiphol Airport - Netherlands OUT
The Marechaussee arrest a protester at ‘SOS for the climate’ action at Schiphol Airport – Netherlands OUT

Tessel Hofstede of Extinction Rebellion explained that a main target of the action is the very nature of the richest people in Europe and around the world who produce a disproportionate level of emissions by the consumption habits their outsized wealth affords.

“The exemptions that apply to Schiphol and for private flights show exactly where the problem lies in tackling the climate crisis,” Hofstede explained. “Schiphol Airport is one of the biggest polluters in the Netherlands, yet almost half of the Dutch population never sets foot in an airplane. The wealthy ‘jet set’ is responsible for most of the flights and the highest carbon emissions, and nothing is being done to stop them.”

Such wealthy people, Hofstede added, “are allowed to just carry on producing huge amounts of CO2, while people who are less well off suffer the burden of the climate crisis. This is unfair and unacceptable. It is high time aviation starts complying with the Paris climate agreement.”

According to Reuters, “military police moved in and were seen taking dozens of the protesters away in buses.” More than 100 activists were arrested, local outlets reported.