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Extinction Rebellion activists block private jet terminals at Luton Airport to protest 'wealthy polluters'

Extinction Rebellion activists have blocked private jet terminals at Luton Airport to protest wealthy private jet owners

Extinction Rebellion protesters stand at Luton Airport holding a sign reading "private flyer = climate criminal"

Extinction Rebellion activists have blocked private jet terminals at Luton Airport to protest wealthy private jet owners (Extinction Rebellion)

While many of us are growing ever-more concerned about catastrophic global warming, the super-wealthy are continuing to jet around the world on private planes, emitting more carbon than half of the world’s population put together.

Extinction Rebellion (XR) is now looking to target the richest emitters, blocking private jet terminals at Luton Airport on Tuesday (February 14) as part of a new strategy to “make wealthy polluters pay” and move away from disrupting the lives of “normal working people”

The environmental group claimed the protest, which involved XR members blockading the entrances to Luton Airport’s Harrods Aviation and Signature private jet terminals, formed a demand to the UK government to “ban private jets” and “tax frequent flyers”. 

The group of activists reportedly took to the airport and blocked all three gates to the private jet terminal, holding flags and banners reading: “Love in action”. 

“I’m an aviation worker, but feel that I can’t stand by watching the emissions from my industry continue to grow and contribute so heavily to the climate change carnage wreaking havoc around the world,” Finlay Asher, 32, founder of Safe Landing, a group for ex-aviation workers concerned about the climate, said.

“These impacts are mostly felt by the poorest communities, so it’s sickening to also realise that an elite minority of super-rich mega polluters are responsible for the majority of global emissions from air travel.”

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Further protests took place at Malpensa Private Airport in Italy and the AIR OPS business aviation conference in Brussels, with a climate activist crashing onto the stage bearing a “Make Them Pay” banner. 

Activist Nigel Harvey, 60, explained that the action fell in line with XR’s new guidelines shifting its demonstrations away from public disruption. 

“Extinction Rebellion and other climate activist groups are often criticised for disrupting the lives of ‘normal working people’ – well it should be clear that owning a private jet isn’t normal,” the recycling company chief executive said.

“This is a targeted action – we’re disrupting only the top one per cent: the highest-income, highest emitters who are most responsible for pollution and have the most power to affect changes.”

The use of private jets by celebrities and the ultra-wealthy has come under intense scrutiny in recent years, with so-called “super emitters” being held accountable by Twitter bots tracking private jets making journeys of as little as four minutes.

A 2020 study found that “super emitters” including private jet users fly an average of 35,000 miles a year, with one per cent of the world’s population responsible for half of global carbon emissions from aviation in 2018.

In contrast, a reported 80 per cent of the global population has never stepped foot on a plane.

A spokesperson for Luton Airport told The Big Issue in a statement: “A peaceful protest took place away from the main terminal without causing any disruption.

“Flights and access to the airport were unaffected.”

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