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Grounded: Activists stop private jets in Geneva

  • By The Swiss Times
  • 24 May 2023
Climate activists managed to successfully halt air traffic at Geneva Airport on Tuesday during the planned private jet fair.
Grounded: Activists stop private jets in Geneva
Environmental activists protest private jet flights at the Geneva Airport on May 23 (Keystone SDA).

Air traffic at Geneva Airport came to a halt on Tuesday during what was supposed to be Europe’s biggest private jet fair when climate activists handcuffed themselves to the jets.

More on the protest

More than 100 activists from Scientist Rebellion, Greenpeace, Stay Grounded Network, and Extinction Rebellion entered the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition’s private jet show Tuesday morning at Geneva Airport. They brought signs reading “#BanPrivateJets” and “WARNING: Private jets burn our future” with them. Some blocked the entrance to the show, while others attached themselves to the private jets to prevent them from flying.

Geneva police intervened, arresting about 80 of the protestors, but not before they were able to suspend air traffic for more than one hour.  

Grounded: Activists stop private jets in Geneva
Geneva police arrest environmental activists during the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition on Tuesday (Keystone SDA).
Switzerland and jets: It’s complicated

Switzerland is ranked second in the world when it comes to private flights per capita with 4,054 flights per million inhabitants in 2022, according to a newly released report from U.S. think tank Institute for Policy Studies. Malta was ranked first. Private jets fly in and out of Switzerland about three times as often per capita as they do in France or the U.K.; and about six times as often as in Germany.

A good portion of these flights can be attributed to the World Economic Forum’s annual conference in Davos. While climate has been a main topic of the event for decades, climate activists are quick to point out that many of the attendees arrive in private jets.

Read more: The dark side of Davos

Climate activists say private jets create significantly higher emissions per passenger than flying commercial or taking other modes of transportation. A private jet creates five to 14 times more pollution per passenger versus a commercial flight, according to the non-profit Transport and Environment. When compared to taking a train, a private jet creates about 50 times more pollution, according to the non-profit.

The Swiss private jet industry creates tens of thousands of jobs and generates billions in profit, according to European Business Aviation Association (EBAA). Business flights account for just 2% of all air CO2 emissions, according to the EBAA. Moreover, air transport accounts for only 2% of all global CO2 emissions, EBAA says.

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