Greenpeace campaigners climb on top Heathrow short-haul flight

Posted by tracy — 25 February 2008 at 10:25am - Comments

Greenpeace campaigners climb to the top of a BA flight at Heathrow

Photo taken on mobile phone by one of the climbers on top of the plane.

Four Greenpeace climate campaigners have just climbed on top of a Manchester to London plane after it parked at Heathrow Airport’s Terminal One. They are now covering the tailfin with a huge protest banner that reads “CLIMATE EMERGENCY – NO 3rd RUNWAY”.

The Greenpeace volunteers – two women and two men – waited until all the passengers had disembarked from the one hour flight before walking through double doors at Terminal One, crossing an area of tarmac and climbing stairs onto the fuselage of the British Airways flight.

See all the day's updates here.

Nice work GP, we're really getting 'on top' of the aviation industry and all their lies.

Plane Stupid salute you!

Why wouldn't BA sue Greenpeace for their losses resulting from this action? Plain stupid

This is fabulous! It's getting amazing coverage on news 24 right now.

Is there somewhere I can go to cheer on my support and way a banner? I'm only 20 minutes from Heathrow and I am free all day until it's time to go to Westminster tonight for the rally - Let me come down I want to be involved!!!!!

Fab fab fab! Awesome!

Email me, tell me what to do! [edit out email]
Al

Whilst being a supporter of most action taken under the banner of Greenpeace, this one strikes me a dumb. Climbing on a 757 at a major international airport? I'm surprised the protesters weren't shot (and I'd find it hard mustering sympathy if they had of been). Strapping a banner to a tailfin of a BA aircraft will only serve to beef up airport security, whilst the average spectator, such as myself, will shake their head in disbelief thinking activists have gone a bit barmy. This one seems like an own-goal.

Accept that air travel is a fact of life and work with those promoting new biofuels like Branson so airlines all have a goal of being carbon neutral. Protests at Heathrow won't get those that matter onside.

Do you 'green' people know that during congested times at Heathrow planes have to fly around in circles for up 30 - 60 mins at around 250 knots? They have to do this because there are too many planes landing on the runway(s). Can you imagine how much fuel they're burning up there? Oh yeah, A LOT.

Of course you have good intentions I highly doubt anyone is in favour of 'ruining the earth' but why is it that all the protests seem to be totally destructive instead of constructive? there's no "oh yeah they could do that but halt any major expansion". Take for example Virgins biofuel tests - there's no one saying "well atleast they're doing something" just rather petty comments :\

And then there's the issue of ships etc (I dont know any stats atm) but I know for a fact that the whole shipping industry pumps out more Co2 than the whole aviation industry.. so why aren't you against that then? It seems to me you're using flying as a scapegoat.

No doubt this post will get deleted but hey.

great work,

I hope this one will make it onto tonight's 10 o'clock news

Thanks Bollyballoo. All the campaigners have been arrested so not much you can do down at Heathrow now. But you can join a rally against Heathrow expansion tonight.

Pragmatic - I can see why you might think we've gone a bit barmy. The problem is that Brown on the one hand recoginises we have to do something to cut our C02 emissions, but on the other supports airport expansion. If the aviation industry continues to expand as expected, this industry alone will prevent us from hitting our emissions reduction targets. This is barmy, and worth standing up against - even on top of a plane.

And as for the Virgin flight, I'm sceptical. Biofuels can often cause more damage to the environment than fossil fuels because of deforestation, and Virgin seems to be using this flight to divert attention from an irresponsible, business as usual attitude to climate change.

Requiem - I understand your concern. But BAA, the airport authority, has already said that flights at the airport were not affected. We all know they have a lot of practice dealing with delays. Flights in dock do not cause landing delays.

What we want to do today is highlight the ridiculous number of short-haul flights at Heathrow. The top destination from Heathrow is Paris, which is easily reached by Eurostar - city centre to city centre. The Manchester flight the activists are on is the fourth most popular destination with 32 flights everyday.

There are about 100,000 flights every year between Heathrow and cities within 500km. With train travel being 10 times less damaging to the climate than flying we have to sort out our rail networks instead of investing in more runways.

I'll check into the shiping figures and get back. And we don't delete posts so long as they follow the house rules.

Tracy - thanks for your comments. However, you have to accept that growth in international travel is inevitable, so it's time to embrace the actions of Virgin and others looking for alternatives rather than pour scorn on them. Branson himself has said they haven't got it totally right yet, but they're heading in the right direction.

The aviation industry may be part of the problem - but it's certainly not all of it, and there are many initiatives in fuel types and aircraft & engine design that are changing. There is certainly more activity in the aviation industry than in the other global polluters such as shipping, but aviation is 'flavour of the month' when it comes to climate change scapegoats.

If anything is irresponsible, it is the actions of the activists today. Breaching security at Heathrow; climbing on top of an aircraft (which carries so much personal risk, it's a miracle they didn't fall - or get shot - off); It smacks more like the kind of stunt Fathers For Justice would try and pull off rather than Greenpeace. It's an own goal that loses you credibility.

I don't accept that aviation growth is inevitable; as I've mentioned before, infinite growth is impossible, so it has to stop somewhere, and any advantages from improvements to engines etc (which in any case will only reduce emissions so far) will be more than outweighed by predicted growth.

Virgin's stunt yesterday isn't really going to help, either. Regardless of what the fuel is made from, it still has to be grown somewhere and the sheer quantities required to hurl several hundred tonnes of metal through the air mean arable land will be gobbled up. Depending on the biofuel, I've seen estimates that half the arable land in the UK would be needed just to fuel Virgin's fleet. But I've ranted enough about Virgin's greenwash elsewhere on the site.

web editor
gpuk

You are, of course, entitled to an opinion, as am I, regarding the growth of aviation. Personally I believe you can't put the genie back in the bottle, and air travel is a fact of life today. The Far East is experiencing exponential growth in the air travel market, as will our demand grow as the population increases. I firmly believe that we should be looking at how best we manage that rather than putting our collective heads in the sand and hope the problem will go away. People will still travel, and the alternatives are just as polluting, if not more so. Strapping a banner to a tailfin isn't helping, IMHO. In fact, my belief is it would have backfired with a large number of people, like me, who viewed Greenpeace as a level-headed organisation looking to effect change in the word, but now a bunch of irresponsible yahoos staging bombastic and ineffectual stunts on planes at Heathrow.

Yes, we all know that Virgin's trial flight is not using a sustainable source of biofuels - Branson said as much at the press conference. But if you dismiss his initiatives, who else are you going to look to to take the first steps? If Branson doesn't make the idea of biofuels popular with the travelling public (and if anyone can, the Branson publicity machine can), then no-one else is going to step up to the plate. You think Willie Walsh is going to make one 'green' change unless Branson sways public opinion to force his arm?

One of the protesters, Anna Jones, 27, from Leeds, said: "I am standing on this plane because our planet and the people who live on it are in danger. Climate change can be beaten but not by almost doubling the size of the world's biggest airport."
[Unquote]

Full marks to Greenpeace for demonstrating that, as far as airport security is concerned, there's one rule for the law-abiding passenger, airport worker, or crew member; another for the determined terrorist.

Nought-out-of-ten for your ignorance of Heathrow's (parlous) position, by world standards, in terms of its size and capacity.

Can you assure me, a retired airline pilot, that you never use air travel for Greenpeace business, or for pleasure? I sympathise with some of your campaigns, and love the planet as much as you do.

But in the case of aviation, especially British aviation, you are over-egging the pudding. You are attacking it because:
1) it's an easy target;
2) it is newsworthy.

Your policy is cheap and disproportionate to its effect on the environment. Any success you have will merely benefit foreign airlines and airports, at the expense of our own. British aviation is among the most innovative in the world, but can only take the lead in reduction of airliner emissions if it remains successful.

PS
Thanks for the nice pics of my old aeroplane. Did you know it uses less fuel per passenger-mile than a family car with 4 people on board?

"However, you have to accept that growth in international travel is inevitable"

Like it or not oil is a finite resource. As supply dwindles prices will rise and "international travel" will melt away as people will no longer be able to afford it.

Biofuels offer no solution as any good arable land is needed for food crops. There's nowhere near enough land in the world to feed *everybody* a Western style diet, yet alone grow fuel for aviation too.

"Did you know it uses less fuel per passenger-mile than a family car with 4 people on board?"

Oh if only that were true. The 787 and the A380 produce about 90g CO2/km/passenger if full. That compares to around 25g CO2/km/passenger for something like a full Golf TDi. Older/current aircraft are much worse -- 120g or more per km.

Your statement only holds true if you think that a Land Rover Discovery is a "family car"...

Aviation is being targetted as it's the only source of CO2 that's growing rapidly. Why should aviation undo everyone else's good work?

Hi Chris.

I know from the look of it that it comes across as we’re against all flying, but we’re not, and like it or not even we can’t avoid flying all the time.

What we take issue over is airport expansion and the growing number of short-haul flights. This is not because it‘s an easy target, but because it is the fastest growing source of emissions. If we don’t put a cap on emissions, at predicted rates of expansion the aviation industry will be emitting our total carbon budget by 2050. That means we would not be able to emit C02 anywhere else in the country if we want to hit the emission reduction targets set by the government.

I can’t blame people for flying, it is ridiculous that it is cheaper to fly than take a train in this country. The aviation industry receives £9 billion in subsidies every year from the government. This money would be better spent ensuring that people have an affordable and efficient train system.

Per person, Britons emit more from flying than any other people on the planet (603kg per person per year, compared to 434kg for Irish and 275 kg for Americans). So yes all countries need to work together to reduce our C02 emissions, but we can start here by stabilising emissions from aviation and making sure we lead the way curbing airport expansion.

It is newsworthy. The government public consultation ends on Wednesday and has been a stitch up. The consultation did not even look at the issue of climate change and we are trying to make sure that the biggest threat we face is not forgotten by the government and voters.

"...it is ridiculous that it is cheaper to fly than take a train in this country. The aviation industry receives £9 billion in subsidies every year from the government. This money would be better spent ensuring that people have an affordable and efficient train system"

Tracy - This comment intrigued me, if only because if our neighbours in Europe got wind of it, we'd be pulled up in Brussels for anti-competitive behaviour. Please elaborate on what you mean by £9bn in subsidies, and where that money goes exactly. I really am genuinely curious.

I can't disagree with your comment that it is cheaper to fly than take the train - although I have this nagging feeling that has more to do with the train operators than the airlines. I regularly travel a 30-mile journey by train, and have seen the prices spiral and service dwindle. Little wonder alternatives like cars and planes look more attractive. Damning the domestic aviation market can only be worthwhile when there are realistic alternatives, and with the current system, there isn't.

"As supply dwindles prices will rise and "international travel" will melt away as people will no longer be able to afford it... Biofuels offer no solution as any good arable land is needed for food crops."

Dan - As you've missed the points I've made before, let me reiterate. The current biofuel tests are a starting point - using a source everyone - including Branson - agree is unsustainable; but the test is just that; to prove a jet engine can run on biofuel. The next step is to develop sustainable biofuels, and that process is already advancing. To suggest that the demand for international travel will 'melt away' displays an extraordinary naivety. What we must do is seek out and support the sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels; not deny there is a demand for the uses they are currently put to.

"Per person, Britons emit more from flying than any other people on the planet"

This possibly has a lot to do with the fact we're a small and crowded island with one of the worst public transport systems on the globe. We do business on an international level, so have to get off the island, and we do business with all corners in our domestic market, so we need to get around. The domestic market could be improved significantly with a decent rail network, but the appetite for international air travel isn't going to go away any time soon.

Pragmatic – sorry I should have been more specific. This is a tax subsidy and BAA has confirmed the figure (Sewill, The hidden cost of flying, AEF, 2003). Aviation fuel is not taxed anywhere and globally is governed by an international agreement that maintains its tax-free status.

On the other hand aviation emissions are not included in international agreements to reduce C02 emissions. The EU may include aviation in the emissions trading scheme, but it is unlikely to have much of an impact even if they adopt the toughest standards currently on the table.

Check out our Case against Heathrow Expansion briefing for all the details on our campaign.

Ah, I see. So this isn't actually £9bn that the taxpaper gives to the airlines, but rather £9bn that isn't collected in tax on fuel, and this is an international agreement to maintain a level playing field worldwide?

I would imagine if the UK unilaterally imposed fuel tax on aircraft fuel, either the airlines would simply buy their fuel abroad, or go bust because they would be grossly non-competitive. It is, therefore, rather a mute point, wouldn't you say?

Nice work GP, we're really getting 'on top' of the aviation industry and all their lies. Plane Stupid salute you!

Why wouldn't BA sue Greenpeace for their losses resulting from this action? Plain stupid

This is fabulous! It's getting amazing coverage on news 24 right now. Is there somewhere I can go to cheer on my support and way a banner? I'm only 20 minutes from Heathrow and I am free all day until it's time to go to Westminster tonight for the rally - Let me come down I want to be involved!!!!! Fab fab fab! Awesome! Email me, tell me what to do! [edit out email] Al

Whilst being a supporter of most action taken under the banner of Greenpeace, this one strikes me a dumb. Climbing on a 757 at a major international airport? I'm surprised the protesters weren't shot (and I'd find it hard mustering sympathy if they had of been). Strapping a banner to a tailfin of a BA aircraft will only serve to beef up airport security, whilst the average spectator, such as myself, will shake their head in disbelief thinking activists have gone a bit barmy. This one seems like an own-goal. Accept that air travel is a fact of life and work with those promoting new biofuels like Branson so airlines all have a goal of being carbon neutral. Protests at Heathrow won't get those that matter onside.

Do you 'green' people know that during congested times at Heathrow planes have to fly around in circles for up 30 - 60 mins at around 250 knots? They have to do this because there are too many planes landing on the runway(s). Can you imagine how much fuel they're burning up there? Oh yeah, A LOT. Of course you have good intentions I highly doubt anyone is in favour of 'ruining the earth' but why is it that all the protests seem to be totally destructive instead of constructive? there's no "oh yeah they could do that but halt any major expansion". Take for example Virgins biofuel tests - there's no one saying "well atleast they're doing something" just rather petty comments :\ And then there's the issue of ships etc (I dont know any stats atm) but I know for a fact that the whole shipping industry pumps out more Co2 than the whole aviation industry.. so why aren't you against that then? It seems to me you're using flying as a scapegoat. No doubt this post will get deleted but hey.

great work, I hope this one will make it onto tonight's 10 o'clock news

Thanks Bollyballoo. All the campaigners have been arrested so not much you can do down at Heathrow now. But you can join a rally against Heathrow expansion tonight.

Pragmatic - I can see why you might think we've gone a bit barmy. The problem is that Brown on the one hand recoginises we have to do something to cut our C02 emissions, but on the other supports airport expansion. If the aviation industry continues to expand as expected, this industry alone will prevent us from hitting our emissions reduction targets. This is barmy, and worth standing up against - even on top of a plane. And as for the Virgin flight, I'm sceptical. Biofuels can often cause more damage to the environment than fossil fuels because of deforestation, and Virgin seems to be using this flight to divert attention from an irresponsible, business as usual attitude to climate change.

Requiem - I understand your concern. But BAA, the airport authority, has already said that flights at the airport were not affected. We all know they have a lot of practice dealing with delays. Flights in dock do not cause landing delays. What we want to do today is highlight the ridiculous number of short-haul flights at Heathrow. The top destination from Heathrow is Paris, which is easily reached by Eurostar - city centre to city centre. The Manchester flight the activists are on is the fourth most popular destination with 32 flights everyday. There are about 100,000 flights every year between Heathrow and cities within 500km. With train travel being 10 times less damaging to the climate than flying we have to sort out our rail networks instead of investing in more runways. I'll check into the shiping figures and get back. And we don't delete posts so long as they follow the house rules.

Tracy - thanks for your comments. However, you have to accept that growth in international travel is inevitable, so it's time to embrace the actions of Virgin and others looking for alternatives rather than pour scorn on them. Branson himself has said they haven't got it totally right yet, but they're heading in the right direction. The aviation industry may be part of the problem - but it's certainly not all of it, and there are many initiatives in fuel types and aircraft & engine design that are changing. There is certainly more activity in the aviation industry than in the other global polluters such as shipping, but aviation is 'flavour of the month' when it comes to climate change scapegoats. If anything is irresponsible, it is the actions of the activists today. Breaching security at Heathrow; climbing on top of an aircraft (which carries so much personal risk, it's a miracle they didn't fall - or get shot - off); It smacks more like the kind of stunt Fathers For Justice would try and pull off rather than Greenpeace. It's an own goal that loses you credibility.

I don't accept that aviation growth is inevitable; as I've mentioned before, infinite growth is impossible, so it has to stop somewhere, and any advantages from improvements to engines etc (which in any case will only reduce emissions so far) will be more than outweighed by predicted growth. Virgin's stunt yesterday isn't really going to help, either. Regardless of what the fuel is made from, it still has to be grown somewhere and the sheer quantities required to hurl several hundred tonnes of metal through the air mean arable land will be gobbled up. Depending on the biofuel, I've seen estimates that half the arable land in the UK would be needed just to fuel Virgin's fleet. But I've ranted enough about Virgin's greenwash elsewhere on the site. web editor gpuk

You are, of course, entitled to an opinion, as am I, regarding the growth of aviation. Personally I believe you can't put the genie back in the bottle, and air travel is a fact of life today. The Far East is experiencing exponential growth in the air travel market, as will our demand grow as the population increases. I firmly believe that we should be looking at how best we manage that rather than putting our collective heads in the sand and hope the problem will go away. People will still travel, and the alternatives are just as polluting, if not more so. Strapping a banner to a tailfin isn't helping, IMHO. In fact, my belief is it would have backfired with a large number of people, like me, who viewed Greenpeace as a level-headed organisation looking to effect change in the word, but now a bunch of irresponsible yahoos staging bombastic and ineffectual stunts on planes at Heathrow. Yes, we all know that Virgin's trial flight is not using a sustainable source of biofuels - Branson said as much at the press conference. But if you dismiss his initiatives, who else are you going to look to to take the first steps? If Branson doesn't make the idea of biofuels popular with the travelling public (and if anyone can, the Branson publicity machine can), then no-one else is going to step up to the plate. You think Willie Walsh is going to make one 'green' change unless Branson sways public opinion to force his arm?

One of the protesters, Anna Jones, 27, from Leeds, said: "I am standing on this plane because our planet and the people who live on it are in danger. Climate change can be beaten but not by almost doubling the size of the world's biggest airport." [Unquote] Full marks to Greenpeace for demonstrating that, as far as airport security is concerned, there's one rule for the law-abiding passenger, airport worker, or crew member; another for the determined terrorist. Nought-out-of-ten for your ignorance of Heathrow's (parlous) position, by world standards, in terms of its size and capacity. Can you assure me, a retired airline pilot, that you never use air travel for Greenpeace business, or for pleasure? I sympathise with some of your campaigns, and love the planet as much as you do. But in the case of aviation, especially British aviation, you are over-egging the pudding. You are attacking it because: 1) it's an easy target; 2) it is newsworthy. Your policy is cheap and disproportionate to its effect on the environment. Any success you have will merely benefit foreign airlines and airports, at the expense of our own. British aviation is among the most innovative in the world, but can only take the lead in reduction of airliner emissions if it remains successful. PS Thanks for the nice pics of my old aeroplane. Did you know it uses less fuel per passenger-mile than a family car with 4 people on board?

"However, you have to accept that growth in international travel is inevitable" Like it or not oil is a finite resource. As supply dwindles prices will rise and "international travel" will melt away as people will no longer be able to afford it. Biofuels offer no solution as any good arable land is needed for food crops. There's nowhere near enough land in the world to feed *everybody* a Western style diet, yet alone grow fuel for aviation too.

"Did you know it uses less fuel per passenger-mile than a family car with 4 people on board?" Oh if only that were true. The 787 and the A380 produce about 90g CO2/km/passenger if full. That compares to around 25g CO2/km/passenger for something like a full Golf TDi. Older/current aircraft are much worse -- 120g or more per km. Your statement only holds true if you think that a Land Rover Discovery is a "family car"... Aviation is being targetted as it's the only source of CO2 that's growing rapidly. Why should aviation undo everyone else's good work?

Hi Chris. I know from the look of it that it comes across as we’re against all flying, but we’re not, and like it or not even we can’t avoid flying all the time. What we take issue over is airport expansion and the growing number of short-haul flights. This is not because it‘s an easy target, but because it is the fastest growing source of emissions. If we don’t put a cap on emissions, at predicted rates of expansion the aviation industry will be emitting our total carbon budget by 2050. That means we would not be able to emit C02 anywhere else in the country if we want to hit the emission reduction targets set by the government. I can’t blame people for flying, it is ridiculous that it is cheaper to fly than take a train in this country. The aviation industry receives £9 billion in subsidies every year from the government. This money would be better spent ensuring that people have an affordable and efficient train system. Per person, Britons emit more from flying than any other people on the planet (603kg per person per year, compared to 434kg for Irish and 275 kg for Americans). So yes all countries need to work together to reduce our C02 emissions, but we can start here by stabilising emissions from aviation and making sure we lead the way curbing airport expansion. It is newsworthy. The government public consultation ends on Wednesday and has been a stitch up. The consultation did not even look at the issue of climate change and we are trying to make sure that the biggest threat we face is not forgotten by the government and voters.

"...it is ridiculous that it is cheaper to fly than take a train in this country. The aviation industry receives £9 billion in subsidies every year from the government. This money would be better spent ensuring that people have an affordable and efficient train system" Tracy - This comment intrigued me, if only because if our neighbours in Europe got wind of it, we'd be pulled up in Brussels for anti-competitive behaviour. Please elaborate on what you mean by £9bn in subsidies, and where that money goes exactly. I really am genuinely curious. I can't disagree with your comment that it is cheaper to fly than take the train - although I have this nagging feeling that has more to do with the train operators than the airlines. I regularly travel a 30-mile journey by train, and have seen the prices spiral and service dwindle. Little wonder alternatives like cars and planes look more attractive. Damning the domestic aviation market can only be worthwhile when there are realistic alternatives, and with the current system, there isn't. "As supply dwindles prices will rise and "international travel" will melt away as people will no longer be able to afford it... Biofuels offer no solution as any good arable land is needed for food crops." Dan - As you've missed the points I've made before, let me reiterate. The current biofuel tests are a starting point - using a source everyone - including Branson - agree is unsustainable; but the test is just that; to prove a jet engine can run on biofuel. The next step is to develop sustainable biofuels, and that process is already advancing. To suggest that the demand for international travel will 'melt away' displays an extraordinary naivety. What we must do is seek out and support the sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels; not deny there is a demand for the uses they are currently put to. "Per person, Britons emit more from flying than any other people on the planet" This possibly has a lot to do with the fact we're a small and crowded island with one of the worst public transport systems on the globe. We do business on an international level, so have to get off the island, and we do business with all corners in our domestic market, so we need to get around. The domestic market could be improved significantly with a decent rail network, but the appetite for international air travel isn't going to go away any time soon.

Pragmatic – sorry I should have been more specific. This is a tax subsidy and BAA has confirmed the figure (Sewill, The hidden cost of flying, AEF, 2003). Aviation fuel is not taxed anywhere and globally is governed by an international agreement that maintains its tax-free status. On the other hand aviation emissions are not included in international agreements to reduce C02 emissions. The EU may include aviation in the emissions trading scheme, but it is unlikely to have much of an impact even if they adopt the toughest standards currently on the table. Check out our Case against Heathrow Expansion briefing for all the details on our campaign.

Ah, I see. So this isn't actually £9bn that the taxpaper gives to the airlines, but rather £9bn that isn't collected in tax on fuel, and this is an international agreement to maintain a level playing field worldwide? I would imagine if the UK unilaterally imposed fuel tax on aircraft fuel, either the airlines would simply buy their fuel abroad, or go bust because they would be grossly non-competitive. It is, therefore, rather a mute point, wouldn't you say?

About Tracy

I work for Greenpeace in the UK office. Most people in the office might describe what I do as "something to do with computers". That might be followed up with "and she is not a morning person". Clearly I think it is far more interesting than that. I have been helping Greenpeace organise and deliver online campaigns for more than 10 years (I’m going to stop counting) in Canada, Brazil, India and from our international headquarters. And then I realised my carbon foot print was out of control and have settled in the UK bought a boat and a solar panel and am now trying to make amends.

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