Climate activists attack planes, yachts and golf course in series of global anti-luxury protests

Climate activists spray-painted a superyacht, blocked private planes from taking off and plugged holes in golf courses this summer as part of an escalating campaign against the emissions-spewing lifestyles of the ultra-rich.

Climate activism has intensified in recent years as the planet warms to dangerous levels, triggering more extreme heat, flooding, storms, and wildfires around the world.

The tactics have become more radical: some protesters have hit roads, disrupting high-profile sporting events like golf and tennis and even splashing paint or soup on famous artworks.

Now they are turning their attention to the rich, after a long time targeting some of the world’s most profitable companies: oil and gas conglomerates, banks and insurance firms that continue to invest in fossil fuels.

“We are not pointing fingers at people but at their lifestyle, the injustice it represents,” said Karen Killeen, an Extinction Rebellion activist who took part in the protests in Ibiza, Spain, a favorite summer spot for the wealthy. She said the group is protesting against unnecessary emissions, such as super-rich people going to buy a pizza on a boat. “In a climate emergency, it’s an atrocity,” she said.

Environmental activists from Stay Grounded and Greenpeace demonstrate handcuffed to an airplane during the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE), at the Geneva airport, Switzerland, on May 23, 2023. AP

Killeen and others from the climate activist group Plant Future spray-painted a $300 million superyacht belonging to Walmart heiress Nancy Walton Laurie.

The protesters held a sign that read: “You consume, others suffer.”

In Switzerland, some 100 activists stormed Europe’s biggest private jet trade fair in Geneva, chaining themselves to the jetways and the exhibition entrance.

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Climate activism has intensified in recent years. Climate activism has intensified in recent years. PA

In Germany, the climate group Letzte Generation (which translates to Last Generation) spray-painted a private jet on the North Sea resort island of Sylt.

In Spain, activists plugged holes on golf courses to protest the sport’s dire water needs during spells of heat and drought.

In the United States, Abigail Disney, Walt Disney’s great-niece, was arrested at the East Hampton Town, New York, airport in July along with 13 other protesters for preventing cars from entering or leaving the parking lot.

Protesters demonstrate in front of a super yacht belonging to Walmart heiress Nancy Walton Laurie after spray painting it in Ibiza, Spain, on July 16, 2023. Protesters demonstrate in front of a super yacht belonging to Walmart heiress Nancy Walton Laurie after spray painting it in Ibiza, Spain, on July 16, 2023. AP

It was the first of up to eight performances held in the exclusive Hamptons area. Activists also stormed a golf course, disrupted a gala at a museum and demonstrated outside some luxury private homes.

“Luxury practices are contributing disproportionately to the climate crisis right now,” said Dana Fisher, a social scientist at the University of Maryland. According to a 2021 report by the nonprofit organization Oxfam, if all the emissions that warm the planet were attributed to the people who produce them, the richest 1% will be responsible for around 16% of emissions in 2030.” It makes perfect sense that these activists will be calling out this toxic behavior.”

Richard Wilk, an economic anthropologist at Indiana University, said luxury travel is “the real culprit” for emissions by the ultra-rich.

Police and security lead a Just Stop Oil protester away near the 17th hole during the second day of the British Open Golf Championship at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England on July 21, 2023. Police and security lead a Just Stop Oil protester away near the 17th hole during the second day of the British Open Golf Championship at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England, on July 21, 2023. AP

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It published estimates of the annual emissions of top billionaires in 2021 and found that a superyacht (with permanent crew, heliport, submarines and swimming pools) emits about 7,020 tons of carbon dioxide a year, more than 1,500 times more than a typical family car. .

And private jets in Europe alone last year caused more than 3 million tonnes of carbon pollution, equivalent to the average annual CO2 emissions of more than half a million EU residents, according to the non-profit organization Greenpeace.

But Pennsylvania State University climatologist Michael Mann warned that shifting attention away from fossil fuel companies (responsible for at least 70% of all emissions) to the wealthy could be “playing the game into the hands of the fossil fuel industry and the fossil fuel industry. “The diversion campaign” they have used to divert attention from regulation by emphasizing individual carbon footprints over the much larger footprint of polluters.”

A Just Stop Oil protester sits on court 18 on day three of the Wimbledon tennis championships in London on July 5, 2023. A Just Stop Oil protester sits on court 18 on day three of the Wimbledon tennis championships in London, July 5, 2023. AP

“The solution is to get everyone to use less carbon-based energy,” whether they are rich or low-income, he said.

David Gitman, president of Monarch Air Group, a Florida private charter provider, encouraged activists to think twice if they are taking the right approach.

“If your activism is going toward some kind of real assistance to real programs to make real change, like sustainable jet fuel, like carbon offsets, I think this kind of activism can help achieve those results,” Gitman said. “Now if you go out and spray paint a private jet at an airport in Europe, will you get those results? In my opinion, no.”

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Climate activists protest on July 15, 2023 in East Hampton, New York. Climate activists protest on July 15, 2023 in East Hampton, New York. PA

Fisher, of the University of Maryland, was also skeptical that activism would be effective in changing the behavior of the wealthy.

In some cases, governments have intervened with regulations.

France is cracking down on the use of private jets for short trips, and earlier this year Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands also announced plans to ban private jets.

But as the protests mount, Fisher and Wilk say they could still push for behavior change.

“Public shaming is one of the most powerful ways to control people,” Wilk said. “He acts in many different ways to shame people, to make them more aware of the consequences of their actions.”

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Source: vtt.edu.vn

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