November 29, 2022

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Climate protests in Amsterdam: Activists block runways for private jets at Schiphol Airport

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Health & Fitness Journal —

Hundreds of climate activists breached a runway at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport on Saturday to try to stop private jets taking off in the latest demonstration by protesters aimed at drawing attention to the climate crisis.

Greenpeace Netherlands said in a press release that “more than 500” Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion activists were at the airport, one of Europe’s largest, on Saturday afternoon. A spokesman for the security forces at Schiphol could not confirm this figure.

There were about “more than 300” activists, the spokesman for the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee, the military force guarding the airport, told Health & Fitness Journal.

Robert Kapel acknowledged it was a “large-scale” demonstration but said air travel would not be affected as the runway will be used exclusively for private jets and no flights are scheduled until late Saturday night.

“Activists gathered in the nearby forest this morning carrying flags and banners with slogans such as ‘SOS for the climate’ and ‘Stop flying’. At the same time, another group arrived at the airport from the opposite direction with bicycles,” Greenpeace said.

Pictures provided by Greenpeace show groups of dozens of protesters settling on the runway on the runway from several planes. Further pictures show demonstrations in the terminal.

More than 100 arrests “and counting” have been made so far, said Kapel. He added that he believes all arrests will be made by 10 p.m. local time, when he said the first flight should take off. Security forces cordoned off the area and made it inaccessible from other parts of the airport, he commented.

The protesters “plan to ground air traffic from the private jet terminal for as long as possible,” Dewi Zloch, spokeswoman for Greenpeace Netherlands, said in a statement.

She continued: “The airport should reduce its flight movements but is building a brand new terminal instead. The wealthy elite are using private jets more than ever before, which is 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 worsening the climate crisis. That has to stop. We want fewer flights, more trains and a ban on unnecessary short-haul flights and private jets.”

Greenpeace warned authorities weeks in advance there would be some sort of action at Schiphol, Zloch, who was at the scene, told Health & Fitness Journal. They have not disclosed the exact location, she added.

Schiphol Airport CEO Ruud Sondag said activists should “feel welcome, but let’s civilize things”.

Responding to an earlier letter from Greenpeace, he said his goal was to “achieve zero-emission airports by 2030 and zero-carbon aviation by 2050”.

“However, this is only possible if we all work together,” Sondag said in a statement released on Friday.

“Clear laws, regulations and proper permits are imperatives for our environment, government and society. We need clarity on this soon,” he added.

Elsewhere in Europe, two climate activists have been arrested in Madrid, Spain, after they each taped their hands to the frames of two Goya paintings at the Prado Museum on Saturday.

There was no apparent damage to the paintings, but the suspects face charges of public disturbance and damage, the Spanish National Police press office for Madrid told Health & Fitness Journal.

The suspects, two Spaniards, wrote “+1.5C” on the wall between the artworks, which were Goya’s masterpieces “Las Majas”, according to police.

Futuro Vegetal, a Spanish activist group, tweeted a video of the museum protest. The group takes responsibility for the incident.

They billed themselves as a “collective of civil disobedience and direct action to fight the climate crisis by adopting a plant-based food farming system.”

“Last week the UN recognized the impossibility of keeping us below the Paris Agreement temperature rise limit of 1.5 degrees (C) above pre-industrial levels,” Futuro Vegetal wrote in his tweet.

Security forces at the Prado quickly alerted the National Police, which has a unit protecting the perimeter of the famous museum, and officers made the arrests within minutes, the police press office 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 change conference in Egypt.

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