WE NEED TO HAVE THE AVIATION CONVERSATION

An interesting article from the UK , WE NEED TO HAVE THE AVIATION CONVERSATION critiques Norwich Airport’s expansion plan, to treble its passenger number over the next 30 years. It is an example of the ‘predict and provide’ model of transport planning that assumes continued aviation growth as the starting point for all policy, which is incompatible with action on climate change. The article is reposted from The Norwich Radical website.

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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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#StayGrounded at Heathrow Airport

Bicyclating

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.

gatwick-picnic

no-pickering-airport

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.

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.

Planting Seeds So Something Bigger Might Emerge

On the Flying Less blog (a campaign to reduce carbon emissions from academic flying) – A great interview with Professor Kevin Anderson, leading climate scientist, about the Paris climate agreement, including emissions from aviation and shipping. He also talks about his long-term commitment to avoid flying.

Flying Less: Reducing Academia's Carbon Footprint

The Paris Agreement & the Fight Against Climate Change

An interview with Kevin Anderson

In early February, FlyingLess interviewed Kevin Anderson, Professor of Energy and Climate Change in the School of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Civil Engineering at the University of Manchester (United Kingdom). Kevin is also Deputy Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. The transcript below is an edited version of the interview, one conducted by Joseph Nevins of Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York.

 FlyingLess: In a piece that you wrote and that was published in Nature, you assert that the Paris climate agreement constitutes “a genuine triumph of international diplomacy,” while at the same time arguing that it “risks being total fantasy.” Why do you say this?

Kevin Anderson: The triumph of Paris lies in the international diplomacy that brought together all the leaders of the world’s countries. These leaders sang from…

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Statement on Tourism, Aviation and Children’s Rights

Can we still have hope that at the end of the United Nations climate conference (COP21) in Paris a good and fair agreement will be reached that works for people and not profits? The sad truth is that negotiators there act as if travel and tourism, which belong to the great contributors of greenhouse gases, do not exist.

With new research suggesting that emissions from global tourism and aviation are likely to increase by 300% by the end of the century, it is also highly ironic that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) celebrates an International Civil Aviation Day on 7 December to promote air travel as a mode of mass transport that is “safe, secure and sustainable”.
Please find below and in the attachment a Statement of the Tourism Action and Advocacy Forum (TAAF), which calls for the implementation of special measures in the aviation and tourism industries to protect today’s children and future generations. The Statement has been delivered to COP21 in Paris and we would like to ask you to share it widely.

AVIATION, TOURISM & CHILDREN’S RIGHTS:

A GLOBAL EMERGENCY
 
Statement of the Tourism Advocacy and Action Forum (TAAF)
Prepared by the International Support Centre for Sustainable Tourism
 
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) which celebrates International Aviation Day on 7 December calls air transport “by far the safest mode of mass transportation”1.  With climate change careening beyond acceptable limits, and the biosphere endangered by mass tourism, we must broaden our concepts of safety. 
 
If we evaluate safety through an inter-generational lens, the airline business ranks among the most unsafe human enterprises. Promoting air travel elevates not only greenhouse gas emissions, but also consumer lifestyles, consumption patterns and relationships which are unsustainable.
 
Herein lies a major dilemma for the 21st Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21), and the Rio Conventions generally. Tourism, considered a sustainable industry and major contributor to a ‘green economy’ by the United Nations, is actually putting humanity on the Red List as endangered.
 
The precautionary principle must be applied to tourism.  At the third United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (or Earth Summit) in 2012, tourism was endorsed without regard for local contexts of concern or the emerging global context of harm2. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is mandated to promote tourism, as a hub for unrestricted economic growth.  This engenders mass tourism: in practice, exponential growth.
 
Globally, our binge spending on tourism is destabilizing the future of children.  The mass mobility of consumers drives climate change.  In turn, it amplifies biodiversity loss, ecosystem degradation, water shortages, social inequality, conflict (including domestic violence), forced migration, and often cultural vulnerabilities. Calling this set of behaviours ‘tourism’ masks its devastating consequences across generations. 
                                                                                                           
Only a few decades ago tourism had a seasonality and geography which offered some room for regulation. Today, the tourism industry pushes all-season expansion, on a planetary scale. Tourism corridors now enwrap the Earth, expediting urbanization.  Consumer society views aviation as a commute to global playgrounds and shopping outposts.   This has normalized the practice of consumers grazing for excitement and deals worldwide.  It raises complex moral questions about the underlying economic model3. Unchecked expansion of tourism has impinged on other peoples’, species’ and now generations’ flourishing and survival.
 
The aggregate impacts of “2.3 billion passengers a year on more than 26 million flights worldwide”4 is difficult to fathom.  Tourism, being highly cross-sectoral, has a magnitude of harm beyond other industries.  Although the assessment of impacts often is framed narrowly – without adequately bridging all involved economic sectors and affected community realms – recent research shows the correlations between tourism and risky outcomes across various ecological, social and cultural systems globally5. The composite of impacts is summarized in scientific literature as a crisis or even precipice for humanity6.  This news brings increasing anxiety, distress, trauma and other threats to mental and emotional health, especially for children worldwide.
 
Since the U.N. prioritized sustainable development in 1992, there has been scant attention to reducing tourism. Worldwide, governments, financial institutions, multinational corporations and investors still advance a marketing narrative that tourism is benign, if not beneficial. Airport expansions and aerotropolis construction abound7.  The aviation sector is pursuing growth, as if that is a lawful option under present biosphere constraints.   Business proceeds as if there is no inter-generational context to international law or to fundamental human rights.
 
Globally, the persons with weakest citizenship are most vulnerable to this economic model.  Children shoulder its costs more than any other population.  This is evident in the global supply ‘chains’ of the tourism industry; for example, among oppressed populations and impoverished families of the global South, exploited in manufacturing tourism spaces, infrastructure, souvenirs and experiences.  It also manifests in the biosphere crisis now endangering all children worldwide.  While the net effect is to diminish children’s capabilities, such costs are little documented outside the research enclaves of child labour and child sex trafficking.
 
The ideology of economic growth now puts an entire generation of children at risk.  Aviation, a mainstay of this ideology, is a primary cause of accruing ecological and social imbalances globally.  This ‘big picture’ of aviation – especially its role as a key structural element of neoliberal economics – must be assessed, for us to comprehend the full spectrum of inter-generational costs associated with tourism growth.
 
Tourism prompts integration into the very economic model which causes widespread harm.  Children of affluent societies are groomed to be consumers – the pinnacle being to become a tourist, with precocious stories of travel abroad.  Children in impoverished destination areas experience dehumanizing and degrading exchanges through tourism. For both, childhood soon involves more transactions than rites of passage.  Meanwhile, adult travellers valuing attachment with their own children often practice detachment as tourists: loading up child porters and waving away child vendors.  The Asia-Pacific Child Rights Award for Television and other child-centred research initiatives raise awareness about such dynamics. As tourism displaces communities, disrupts in situ conservation, supercedes customary practice requiring mobility (such as shifting cultivation and pastoralism), and eclipses the mobility needs of refugee children, affected children are deprived of life essentials, safety, and cultural health and must adapt to life on the economic fringes.   
 
We therefore appeal to COP21 to evaluate aviation and tourism in meaningful context, implementing special measures to safeguard today’s children and future generations, including:

 

*  prioritizing inter-generational rights and responsibilities, in U.N. decision-making;

 *  foregrounding an ethic of care, to hasten implementation of the Rio Conventions;

*  correcting the misleading narratives of tourism, to protect human rights

*  setting limits for the aviation sector, which address its systemic impacts and the urgent need for degrowth of both tourism and other unnecessary travel;

centring the well-being of children and future generations in evaluation frameworks;

*  implementing the full framework of human rights of children, as per international law

applying the capabilities approach to make children visible in benefit/cost equations and to remedy the inter-generational harms of gross domestic product (GDP) ideology;8

 *  identifying the mobility needs of children which are impeded or superceded by tourism, including their developmental needs and specific cultural rights to mobility.

 A child-centred approach to managing climate change must be adhered to in the aviation and tourism industries.
 
For further information contact the Tourism Advocacy & Action Forum c/o taaforum@gmail.com or ISCST at sustour@axionet.com

References:

1 International Civil Aviation Organization (2010).  Message from the President of the Council of ICAO, Mr. Roberto Kobeh González, on the Occasion of International Civil Aviation Day.  Montreal, Canada, December 3.
2. Johnston, Alison M. (2012).  “Tourism: For Next Generations? Rethinking the Future We Want”.  Third World Resurgence, Third World Network, Malaysia,  No. 262, June: 35-38.
3. Brenner, Neil (2013).  “Theses on Urbanization,” Public Culture, Vol. 25, No. 1: 85-113.
4. International Civil Aviation Organization, ibid.
5. Third World Network (2015). Global Tourism Growth: Remedy or Ruin? Third World Resurgence #301/302, Sept/Oct 2015.
6. Rees, William E. (2011).  Toward A Sustainable World Economy.  Paper delivered at Institute for New Economic Thinking Annual Conference, April 8-11, Bretton Woods, USA.
7. Global Anti-Aerotropolis Movement (GAAM). https://antiaero.org/
8. Nussbaum, Martha (2011).  Creating Capabilities: The Human Development Approach.  The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, USA and London, UK.