LOVE IN ACTION: Extinction Rebellion blockades Luton Airport private jet terminals in Valentine’s Day protest
February 14, 2023 by Extinction Rebellion
This morning, Extinction Rebellion and affiliated groups have blockaded the entrances to Luton Airport’s Harrods Aviation and Signature private jet terminals to demand the government take urgent action to ban private jets, tax frequent flyers and make wealthy polluters pay.
The protest is part of a global co-ordinated action launched last week by climate activists across 11 countries, which is targeting multiple sites in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and the US.
Groups chose to take action today due to the rise in the use of private jet flights for supposedly romantic Valentine’s Day dates, and to invite anyone watching to go to Parliament from April 21st to be part of 100,000 people calling for a citizen-led transition away from fossil fuels.
“Valentine’s Day should not have to cost the Earth, or the taxpayer,” says former airline pilot-turned climate activist, Todd Smith. “The people want a ban on private jets, as Climate Assembly UK demonstrated in 2020.  But nothing has been done. I can only assume the government has ignored the will of the people to protect the interests of their rich mates. We are here today to make them listen.”
Extinction Rebellion’s iconic blue boat Polly Higgins is blocking all three gates to Luton Airport’s Signature Terminal with protestors locked on to the deck and hull of the boat.
Another group of protestors is barricading the entrance to the Harrods Aviation Terminal, with activists locked onto two oil barrels.
More activists are gathered at both terminals dressed in hi-vis jackets, holding flags and banners in the style of airport signs, and wearing pink vests reading “LOVE IN ACTION”.
Today’s protest is part of the ongoing “Make Them Pay” campaign by Scientist Rebellion, Extinction Rebellion (XR), and Stay Grounded which has three key demands: ban private jets, tax frequent flyers and make polluters pay. 
Nigel Harvey, 60, a recycling company chief executive and XR activist from St Albans, added: “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. This is a targeted action – we’re disrupting only the top 1%: the highest-income, highest emitters who are most responsible for pollution and have the most power to affect changes.”
1% of the global population produces over a half of total aviation emissions , while 80% of the global population have never actually stepped foot onboard an aircraft . Private jets are around 10 times more energy-intensive per passenger than commercial planes and 50 times more energy-intensive than trains. A four-hour flight in a private jet emits as much as the average person does in an entire year. Yet private jet use remains subsidised and untaxed .
Sarah Hart, 41, mum of two from Farnborough said: “The fact that our government turns a blind eye on these polluters is just further evidence of its failure to act on the climate & ecological emergency. We are calling for everyone to join us from 21 April outside the Houses of Parliament to make our voices heard and demand action on the climate & ecological crisis NOW.”
Last year the Least Developed Countries (LDC) group representing the most climate-vulnerable countries at COP27, proposed a global aviation tax to pay for a climate ‘loss & damage’ fund for their countries  and cancel debt in the countries most affected by climate change so that they can afford to transition to low-carbon economies .
Finlay Asher, 32, an aerospace engineer from Bristol and co-founder of Safe Landing  said: “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 carnage wreaking havoc around the world.
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.”
— Ends —
Notes for Editors
Press contact for this action: Carol +44 (0)7791 737093
 The Big One https://extinctionrebellion.uk/the-big-one/
 Multiple citizens’ assemblies have produced such recommendations for the aviation sector, including:
- Climate Assembly UK recommendations:
- “Ban polluting private jets and helicopters, moving to electric technology as it becomes available”
- “80% of assembly members ‘strongly agreed’ or ‘agreed’ that taxes that increase as people fly more often and as they fly further should be part of how the UK gets to net zero. Assembly members saw these taxes as fairer than alternative policy options.
- Scotland’s Climate Assembly recommendations:
- “Eliminate frequent flyer and air mile bonuses to reduce the number of flights taken for business, encouraging the use of alternatives like video conferencing for meetings.” – 92% agree
- “Discourage air travel by introducing a frequent flyer tax or levy.” – 78% agree
- French Citizens’ Convention on Climate:
- Limiting the adverse effects of air travel: “Adopt an enhanced eco-contribution per kilometre”, “Increasing fuel taxes for recreational aviation”, and “Promoting the idea of a European eco-contribution” – 88.1% agree.
 “Make Them Pay” campaign website: https://makethempay.info/
 The global scale, distribution and growth of aviation: Implications for climate change https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959378020307779
 “Despite the disproportionate climate impact, private jets are untaxed in most European nations because of exemptions from the EU’s carbon pricing scheme (EU ETS) and untaxed kerosene.” https://www.transportenvironment.org/discover/rising-use-of-private-jets-sends-co2-emissions-soaring/
 ‘Loss & damage’ fund could raise more than $100 billion a year: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/sep/19/vulnerable-countries-demand-global-tax-to-pay-for-climate-led-loss-and-damage
 Cancel debt in the countries most affected by climate change: https://debtforclimate.org/
 Safe Landing: https://safe-landing.org/
Explanation of Frequent Flyer Levy policy: https://afreeride.org/
ABOUT EXTINCTION REBELLION
- The Big One April 21st 2023 | Find out about our biggest protest yet and to take part!
- Donate to April 21st | Support the Rebellion
- What Emergency? | Read about the true scale of the climate crisis
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- XR UK website | Find out more about XRUK
- XR Global website | Discover what’s going on in XR around the globe!
Time has almost entirely run out to address the ecological crisis which is upon us, including the 6th mass species extinction, global pollution, and increasingly rapid climate change. If urgent and radical action isn’t taken, we’re heading towards 4˚C warming, leading to societal collapse and mass loss of life. The younger generation, racially marginalised communities and the Global South are on the front-line. No-one will escape the devastating impacts.
Extinction Rebellion believes it is a citizen’s duty to rebel, using peaceful civil disobedience, when faced with criminal inactivity by their government.
Extinction Rebellion’s key demands are:
Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
- Government must tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change.
- Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
- Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.