Principles for honest reporting on the new aviation agreement

Flying Less: Reducing Academia's Carbon Footprint

The UN’s International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Assembly met in early October to agree on measures to curb emissions from international aviation, a sector that had been left out of the Paris Agreement a year earlier.

From the perspective of our campaign to change the culture of flying in academia, I have to see the agreement as inadequate. The agreement is voluntary, relies too much on offsets in place of actual emission reductions, and gives too little attention to restraining aviation demand. The case against the agreement is summarized in the video below from FERN, an environmental organization, and in the vigorous Guardian column this week from George Monbiot.

Some environmental organizations are more optimistic about the agreement (see World Wildlife Fund Oct 10).

While readers may share one view or the other, I feel we should all agree on some principles of honest reporting about this agreement. Nobody…

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Peña Nieto’s airport in Atenco and Texcoco poses Serious Threat of Flooding

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Peña Nieto’s airport in Atenco and Texcoco poses Serious Threat of Flooding

dsc_0570Flooded communal land in the Ejido Nexquipayac, Atenco. Photo: Sergio Grajales Ventura

By Sergio Grajales Ventura

The construction of the New International Airport of Mexico City (or as known by its initials in Spanish – NAICM) in the towns of Atenco and Texcoco poses a great risk of flooding, not just for the communities in the area, but for all of the eastern part of the Valley of Mexico. Additionally, land subsidence will accelerate, surface run-off will increase and the region’s most important regulatory reservoir, the former Lake Texcoco, would be destroyed.

I. Over-exploitation of water and subsidence

In a previous issues of El Salinero, we reported that in 2001 the Autonomous National University of Mexico’s PUMA programme (the University Programme for the Environment or in Spanish, “Programa Universitario de Medio Ambiente”) predicts that as early as 2020…

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#StayGrounded at Heathrow Airport


It’s back on the activism bike on the first day of October, for an action organised by Reclaim the Power called #StayGrounded.

The aim of the action day, part of a wider week of activities around the world, is to highlight the madness of airport expansion at a time when all the available, credible science is not just telling us, but yelling at us: stop extracting and burning fossil fuels!

Yep, a third runway at Heathrow will probably be given the green light this year, as part of this government’s deluded attempts to ‘keep Britain competitive’ and help transform us into a ‘global powerhouse’ post-Brexit (by importing and exporting more stuff to ever further flung destinations).

Oh, and to cater for the growing demand in leisure flights by frequent binge flyers here in the UK, and the swelling global middle class. Because it’s everyone’s right to fly as far and as often as…

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Stay Grounded video: Global resistance to aviation expansion

Resistance to aviation expansion and new airport projects is rising worldwide. This video of actions to highlight the damage to people and the environment – in the UK, Germany, Austria, Turkey, France and Mexico  – was compiled by Austria based NGO System Change, Not Climate Change. It marks a wave of global action, under the banner ‘Stay Grounded: Aviation Growth Cancelled Due to Climate Change!’

Drawing attention to aviation’s contribution to climate change is timely. Publication of the video coincides with a meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in Montreal, Canada, which agreed a deal which purports to curb aviation’s emissions of climate change causing greenhouse gas emissions. This is urgently needed as the aviation sector is one of the fastest rising sources of emissions. But, under the deal, airlines will not face a cap or charge on their emissions. Instead, offset schemes will enable airlines to pay for carbon reducing activities such as forested area and emissions cuts in other industries. Aviation growth will continue and the deal will do little to reduce emissions. The aviation industry is not committed to aligning its long term targets with the 1.5°C – 2°C temperature increase limits of the Paris agreement on climate change, which has now come into force as it has been ratified by a sufficient number of countries.

The Stay Grounded actions around the world conveyed serious messages of the damage of aviation expansion with energy and humour. In France an unnecessary new airport in Nantes threatens to destroy farmland, forest and biodiverse wetlands. Farmers and activists have resisted the project for 40 years. The 4,000 acre site is protected by the ZAD (Zone a Défendre) community, which may be facing imminent forced eviction and has issued a callout for support. The video shows a massive march, dancing and dozens of carpenters working together to construct a building to form the base for resistance to eviction.

In Turkey, North Forest Defence has held a great many protests against destruction of forests, lakes, farmland and coastline for Istanbul’s third airport. Every day thousands of trucks move earth for preparation of the construction site. In Germany, campaigners hold demonstrations in Frankfurt Airport terminal every Monday to protest against expansion of the airport. A fourth runway opened in 2011 and construction of a third terminal began in October 2015. A planned new Mexico City mega-airport on the site of Lake Texcoco would lead to water shortages and a devastating impact on farming. Farmers have resisted an airport in the area since 2001, and suffered state oppression and violence. There was a protest on affected farmland and an academic forum and study visit. Campaigners opposing a third runway at Vienna Airport dropped a banner from a bridge over a highway, held a massive bicycle rally (one of the tandems is towing a piano), and there was a performance by a breakdancing polar bear.

A third runway is planned at London’s Heathrow Airport, where the Stay Grounded action included a critical mass bike block and flash mob and ‘die-in’ in Terminal 2. A privileged elite take the majority of flights and a frequent flyers’ check-in, with activists playing privileged passengers climbing over protesters, highlighted the inequities of aviation growth. Uzma Malik, an activist from Reclaim the Power, reflects on the protest, outlining some of the loopholes in the ICAO deal and details of the action such as the reading out of testimonies from people living on Pacific islands and in Africa whose lives are already being devastated by climate change.

Also in the UK, Gatwick Airport is planning a second runway. Stay Grounded protest took the form of a picnic in the terminal, accompanied by a bagpipe player. Below is just one example of the great photos taken by Rob Basto.



In Montreal, a press action was held outside ICAO headquarters by the People’s Coalition for Responsible Civil Aviation, drew attention to the greenwashing of the ICAO climate deal.

Also from Canada, a fantastic solidarity message from Land over Landings, a group which has resisting an unnecessary third Toronto airport on prime quality farmland in Pickering for over 40 years.

The ‘Stay Grounded’ global wave of action against airport expansion shows that local campaign groups around the world are linking up. Resistance against aviation expansion is gathering momentum. Connections and solidarity between groups resisting airport projects that damage local environments and communities – causing air pollution and loss of farmland and biodiversity – are strengthening. Building on this international solidarity is vital to tackling the global issue of aviation’s contribution to climate change.

International communique against the New Mexico City Airport

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International communique against the New Mexico City Airport


Mexico City, 4 February 2016


In response to the announcement by the government of Enrique Peña Nieto to reactivate the construction of a new airport for Mexico City, more than 70 organizations of organized society in the East of the State of Mexico, Hidalgo state, the Federal District and the rest of the country during the Forum “All Voices against New Airport” and the Constituent Assembly on 10 and 11 November 2015 at the Ché Guevara Auditorium located next to the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters of the UNAM, agreed to the creation of a Broad Front with a horizontal and inclusive structure, with an autonomous and self-managed character, whose main objectives are to defend the territory and to prevent the construction…

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Defend the zad – a call for international solidarity October 8th & 9th 2016

The Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination


For over 50 years, farmers and locals have resisted the building of a
new airport for the French city of Nantes (which by the way already
has one). Now in these rich fields, forests and wetlands, which
multinational Vinci want to cover in concrete, an experiment in
reinventing everyday life in struggle is blossoming. Radicals from
around the world, local farmers and villagers, citizen groups, trade
unionists and naturalists, refugees and runaways, squatters and
climate justice activists and many others, are organising to protect
the 4000 acres of land against the airport and its world. Government
officials have coined this place “a territory lost to the republic”.
Its occupants have named it: la zad (zone a défendre) zone to defend.
In the winter of 2012, thousands of riot police attempted to evict the
zone, but they faced a determined and diverse resistance. This
culminated in a 40,000 people strong demonstration…

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Stay Grounded: Global Action Week against aviation expansion

GAAM is delighted to support Stay Grounded: Aviation Growth Cancelled Due to Climate Change. This Global Action Week coincides with the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) conference in Montreal, which is failing to address the aviation industry’s responsibility to address climate change. Over 100 organisations worldwide have rejected ICAO’s plans for continued growth of aviation and emissions. Resistance against aviation expansion is growing all over the world and actions are taking place in Mexico, Austria, France, UK, Turkey and Canada! The Global Action Week has been co-ordinated by the Austria based climate justice movement System Change, Not Climate Change.