Greta Thunberg: We won't let the rich sacrifice people and planet for their extreme lifestyles - Extinction Rebellion UK

Greta Thunberg: We won’t let the rich sacrifice people and planet for their extreme lifestyles

Greta Thunberg condemns the rich elite’s use of polluting private jets, as she marches with hundreds of protestors to Farnborough Airport to protest against its expansion plans and to call for a ban on private jets.

Climate activist Greta Thunberg joined local residents, Extinction Rebellion activists and climate change campaigners outside Farnborough Airport today (27 January) to protest against plans to increase private jet flights from 50,000 to 70,000 a year. The protesters are also calling for a total ban on private jets, which are up to 30 times more polluting than passenger airliners. (1)

As she marched with protestors to the airport, Greta Thunberg said: “We are today many people protesting against the Farnborough Airport expansion and against private jets. It is clear that private jets are incompatible with ensuring present and future living conditions on this planet. So we’re not going to let this continue. We’re not going to let the rich, who are responsible for the majority of aviation emissions, get away with sacrificing people and the planet in order to maintain their extreme lifestyles.”

Thunberg also made an urgent and heartfelt plea for everyone to take action. She said: “In this enormous challenge that we are facing we’re going to need everyone to take action. We need every single person on this planet to become climate activists. We shouldn’t have to be climate activists, but as it looks now we are in desperate need of more. So, please join the climate movement.”

Hundreds of protestors gathered in Farnborough town centre at 11am today to march alongside Thunberg to Farnborough Airport, setting off pink smoke flares and waving banners proclaiming ‘Flying to Extinction’, ‘Stop Private Flights Now’, ‘No to Airport Expansion’ and ‘Private Flights = Public Deaths’.

The march, organised by Extinction Rebellion Waverley and Borders, accompanied by Extinction Rebellion’s iconic lightship Greta Thunberg, the Red Rebels and 60 drummers, gathered at the airport’s main gate where speakers addressed the crowd from the lightship’s helm. Protestors from Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Alton Climate Action Network, The Quakers, XR Scientists, XR Families, as well as local councillors and residents were also in attendance.

Today’s speakers also included representatives from Extinction Rebellion, Safe Landing, anti-private jet campaign group Possible, No Airport Expansion Group, TV broadcaster and naturalist Chris Packham, who sent a pre-recorded speech, and local campaigner Colin Shearn of Farnborough Noise group. Mr Shearn has an antisocial behaviour injunction served against him by Surrey police for campaigning against the airport. The injunction is designed to silence him. 

This is the latest in a series of protests against the airport’s planning application, which seeks to more than double weekend flights and boost the use of heavier, more polluting private jets. (2, 3) In 2022, there were 33,120 flights to and from the airport, a 27% increase  compared to 2021’s total of 26,007. (4) Flights to and from Farnborough  averaged just 2.5 passengers per flight. Currently 40% of flights to and from the airport are empty, according to research by campaign group Possible.(5) Despite claiming the majority of flights are for business use, the research showed that most Farnborough flights are headed to holiday destinations. (6) Last September a ‘pets on jets’ service launched to fly dogs and their owners from Dubai to Farnborough and back. (7)

Todd Smith, former airline pilot and Extinction Rebellion spokesperson, said: “Flying is the fastest way to fry the planet, and private jets are the most polluting way to fly. Surely it’s a no brainer to ban private jets and stop expanding these luxury airports in the midst of a climate crisis? Survey after survey, as well as several citizens’ assemblies have shown this would be very popular and has widespread support from the general public.

“For most people, life has become more difficult. The cost of heating our homes, buying food and paying our bills has increased massively. So imagine looking out our windows to see yet more private jets flying billionaires around.

“Is this a fair society that we live in, or is there one set of rules for the majority, and another for the elites? Plans to expand the UK’s largest private jet airport seem to make this clear.”

Godalming resident Chris Neill, 67, a retired psychotherapist, said: “We’re in a global climate and ecological emergency. We need to reduce carbon emissions fast and there’s no realistic plan for taking the carbon out of jet fuel. Until there is, we need to fly much less, not more.

“This plan to expand a luxury airport used exclusively by very wealthy people at a time when ordinary people are struggling to manage everyday life is reckless, stupid and selfish. We need a government which has the courage to stop this.”

Finlay Asher, aerospace engineer and member of aviation workers group Safe Landing, added: “As aviation workers, we understand there’s a choice to be made about how we use our limited planetary resources. If we expand private jet flights, then this will consume a large slice of the pie, and leave nothing for anybody else.

“However, there is a positive way forward for society and for our industry: provide genuinely sustainable clean transport for the masses instead, rather than continuing to expand super-polluting private jet airports which cater only to a tiny minority of ultra-wealthy individuals.”

Sarah Hart,42, an office assistant from Farnborough, said: “As a local resident and a mum of two I am utterly appalled at the airport’s plan to expand when we should be banning private flying completely. We need to be taking drastic steps to ensure a liveable world for all our children, not increasing our use in fossil fuels.”

The airport’s planning application has been met with widespread opposition by local residents and environment and climate campaigners, with over 2,700 comments received, the vast majority of which are opposed to the plans. Rushmoor Borough Council is set to consider the application in March.

Notes for Editors:


  1. Private jets: can the super-rich supercharge zero-emission aviation?
  2. Farnborough airport planning application:
  3. Private jets: can the super-rich supercharge zero-emission aviation?
  4. Farnborough Airport reports traffic rise
  5. Jetting away with it: How private jets pollute the most and pay the least, report by Possible:
  6. Possible report: states that last year half of Farnborough flights in the busiest summer months headed to the Mediterranean, rather than business locations, while a quarter of winter flights were to Alpine destinations.
  7. Private jet service for rich dog owners 

More information on Colin Shearn

Colin Shearn from Farnborough Airport Noise Group receives anti-social behaviour injunction:  

Farnborough Airport facts:

  • Farnborough Airport is Europe’s premier private jet facility, affording access to London for ultra-high net worth individuals, corporate executives, business owners and government representatives from across the world.       
  • Farnborough currently has around 32,000 aircraft movements each year and currently has authorisation to increase that to a maximum of 50,000.        
  • It is home to a number of the UK’s largest business jet companies, including Gama Aviation, Executive Jet Charter and Bookajet.        
  • The airport competes with similar facilities at Luton (where Harrods bases its own private jet facility), London City Airport, Stansted, Biggin Hill and Oxford.     
  • Farnborough Airport is regularly awarded the industry’s top European accolade for its combination of luxurious facilities and access to London.
  • Farnborough Airport jealously guards the identity of its users who are drawn from the ranks of the super-rich and business elite and include Arab Royalty, Russian oligarchs, celebrities, politicians and VIPs, and high-end business owners (the Davos elite) who can afford to travel in this fashion. These are the polluter elite.
  • Farnborough seeks tomore than double weekend flights from 8,900 to 18,900 a year, and boost the use of heavier, more polluting private jets from 1,500 to 2,100 flights a year. (2)  
  • Whilst most private jets are up to 14 times more carbon intensive than a normal airliner, these larger private jets are up to 30 times more polluting. (3)The 33,120 private flights to and from Farnborough Airport in 2022 carried an average of just 2.5 passengers per flight, with each passenger responsible for the emission of nine times as much carbon as an economy flight to the US and 20 times that to Spain. 

Currently 40% of flights to and from the airport are empty, according to research by campaign group Possible. (5)Farnborough Airport claims the majority of flights are for business use, last year half of Farnborough flights in the busiest summer months headed to the Mediterranean, rather than business locations, while a quarter of winter flights were to Alpine destinations.(5)

Related topics

Related topics

Extinction Rebellion Farnborough Airport Greta Thunberg private jets protest

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