Climate protesters on bikes stop private planes from taking off ahead of Cop27 summit

Hundreds of environmental activists blocked private jets from leaving Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport on Saturday in a demonstration on the eve of the Cop27 climate conference in Egypt.

Footage showed Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion activists cycling around the planes at the transport hub, before others sat down in front of private jets to prevent them leaving.

Hundreds of other climate activists occupied the airport’s main hall and carried signs that “more trains” and “restrict aviation”.

Dewi Zloch of Greenpeace Netherlands said the activists want “fewer flights, more trains and a ban on unnecessary short-haul flights and private jets.”

Military police said they arrested a number of protesters for being on the airport’s grounds without authorisation.

Responding Friday to an open letter from Greenpeace, Schiphol’s new chief executive officer Ruud Sondag said the airport is targeting “emissions-free airports by 2030 and net climate-neutral aviation by 2050. And we have an duty to lead the way in that,” but conceded it needed to happen faster.

The Dutch government announced plans in June for a cap on annual passengers at the airport at 440,000, around 11% below 2019 levels, citing air pollution and climate concerns.

Environmental activists block private jets at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport (NOS)
Environmental activists block private jets at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport (NOS)

Dutch transportation minister Mark Harbers told parliament last month his office could not control growing private jet traffic, and the government is considering whether to include the issue in its climate policy.

Delegates from nearly 200 countries kicked off the UN climate summit in Egypt today with an agreement to discuss compensating poor nations for mounting damage linked to global warming.

The agreement set a constructive tone for the Cop27 summit in the seaside resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, where governments hope to keep alive a goal to avert the worst impacts of planetary warming.

The climate talks begin under a cloud of skepticism that world governments are not doing enough to address global warming.

A UN report released last week showed global emissions on track to rise 10.6 per cent by 2030 compared with 2010 levels.

Scientists say those emissions must drop 43 per cent by that time to limit global warming to 1.5C (2.7F) above pre-industrial temperatures as targeted by the Paris Agreement of 2015.

Additional reporting by agencies