Amsterdam climate protests: Activists block the runway of private jets at Schiphol Airport
Hundreds climate activists stormed the runway at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport on Saturday to try to prevent private planes from taking off, u latest demonstration by protesters with the aim of drawing attention to climate crisis.
Greenpeace Netherlands said “more than 500” Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion activists were at the airport, one of the largest in Europe, on Saturday afternoon, in a press release. A spokesman for the Schiphol security force could not confirm the figure.
There were about “more than 300” activists, a spokesman for the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee, the military force guarding the airport, told CNN.
Robert Capel admitted it was a “large-scale” demonstration, but said air traffic was not affected because the runway was used exclusively for private jets and no flights were scheduled until late Saturday night.
“Activists gathered this morning in a nearby forest, carrying flags and banners with slogans like ‘SOS for climate’ and ‘Don’t fly anymore’. At the same time, another group reached the airport on bicycles from the opposite direction,” said Greenpeace.
Pictures from Greenpeace show groups of dozens of protesters sitting on the tarmac next to multiple planes on the tarmac. Further images show demos inside the terminal.
More than 100 arrests have been made so far “and counting,” Kapel said. He added that he thought all the arrests would be made by 10pm (local time), when he said the first flight was scheduled to take off. Security forces blocked the area and made it inaccessible from other parts of the airport, he commented.
The protesters “plan to keep air traffic from the private jet terminal grounded for as long as possible,” Dewi Zloch, a spokesman for Greenpeace Netherlands, said in a statement.
She continued: “The airport should be reducing its flights, but instead it is building a brand new terminal. The wealthy elite are using more private jets than ever, the most polluting way to fly. This is typical of the airline industry, which does not seem to see that it is putting people at risk by exacerbating the climate crisis. This has to stop. We want fewer flights, more trains and a ban on unnecessary short flights and private jets.”
Greenpeace warned the authorities several weeks in advance that there would be some kind of action at Schiphol, Zloch, who was on the scene, told CNN. They did not reveal the exact location, she added.
Schiphol Airport CEO Ruud Sondag said activists should “feel welcome, but let’s keep things civil”.
He was responding to a previous letter from Greenpeace and stated that his goal is to achieve “zero emissions airports by 2030 and net climate neutral aviation by 2050”.
“However, this is only possible if we all work together,” Sondag said in a statement released on Friday.
“Community for our environment, government and society, clear laws, regulations and appropriate permits are necessary. We need clarity on that soon,” he added.
Elsewhere in Europe, two climate activists were arrested in Madrid, Spain after they each taped a hand to the frames of two Goya paintings at the Prado museum on Saturday.
There was no visible damage in the pictures, but the suspects are charged with public disorder and damage, the press office of the Spanish National Police for Madrid told CNN.
The suspects, two Spanish women, wrote “+1.5C” on the wall between the artworks, which are Goya’s “Las Majas” masterpieces, according to police.
Futuro Vegetal, a Spanish activist group, tweeted a video of the protest at the museum. The group takes responsibility for the incident.
They described themselves as “a collective of civil disobedience and direct action to combat the climate crisis through the adoption of a plant-based food growing system.”
“Last week the UN recognized the impossibility of keeping below the 1.5 degree (C) temperature increase limit of 1.5 degrees (C) compared to pre-industrial levels,” Futuro Vegetal wrote in a tweet.
Security guards at the Prado quickly alerted the National Police, which has a unit dedicated to protecting the perimeter of the famous museum, and officers made the arrest within minutes, police said.
The Paris Agreement, adopted by 196 parties at the United Nations COP 21 in December 2015, aimed to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The protest comes just a day before the start of the COP27 climate conference in Egypt.
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