Last Friday, a group of nine climate change activists from the organization Greenpeace broke into Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport and painted an Air France 777-200ER green. The activists scaled the airport fence with ladders early in the morning and were able to gain access to the airport tarmac and vandalize the plane. The aircraft vandalized was registered F-GSPB and had been stored since March of last year. Activists also climbed onto the wing of the Boeing 777 and held up signs that read, “Is there a pilot to save the climate?” The activists were then arrested from the airport and detained after security reached them. In this article, we will discuss why members of Greenpeace, a seemingly ethical and charitable organization, performed such an unlawful stunt.
What is Greenpeace?
Greenpeace is an international non-profit climate-change organization that aims to “defend the natural world and promote peace by investigating, exposing, and confronting environmental abuse, championing environmentally responsible solutions, and advocating for the rights and well-being of all people,” according to their website. Greenpeace consists of 55 different countries and is one of the largest environmental organizations. Greenpeace claims to use “non-violent” actions to spread awareness for protecting the environment and to promote a cleaner and more environmentally-friendly world. Throughout their 50-year history, Greenpeace has done many charitable acts to fight climate change, but they have also committed a few extreme and unlawful actions in the past.
Motives For Vandalization
Greenpeace claims that its vandalization of the Boeing 777 was a response to the government’s “greenwashing” of air transport, which means that they believe the government was misleading people into thinking that air transport is environmentally friendly. The actions of Greenpeace were also planned a few days ahead of the debate on the climate and resilience bill in the French Parliament. Lawmakers in France would debate a law that would prohibit domestic flights in France when there is an alternative train route of fewer than two hours. Greenpeace wants to support the decision and reduce air traffic and airport expansion projects in France. Greenpeace also wants airlines to reduce carbon emissions significantly. Essentially, Greenpeace painted an aircraft green to literally denounce “greenwashing” of the air transport and to support the debate on the climate bill.
While the actions of Greenpeace may not have been fully supported, they have certainly attracted the attention of the public and brought publicity to the topic. Greenpeace’s vandalization of a $306 million aircraft was probably not the most effective way to communicate their beliefs and opinions on the impacts of the aviation industry on climate change. Their actions are not going to change the outcome of the climate bill and have only brought scrutiny to a previously trustworthy organization. Greenpeace’s alleged claims about the government “greenwashing” are also not entirely true, as the National Airline Pilots Union (SNPL) responded to the stunt by saying, “Today, companies buy planes that consume between 2 and 3 liters per passenger per 100 km, which is the consumption of a hybrid car.” The SNPL showed that the aviation industry is not as environmentally harmful as Greenpeace thought.
In the aftermath of the intrusion, the SNPL also responded to the stunt by mentioning how it would have a reverse effect on the environment by inflicting heavy costs to clean the plane. Concerns over airport security have also been raised as a result of this stunt, and costs will be needed to investigate how activists were able to get into the airport. It is unclear if Greenpeace will be facing any legal action, but they will most likely be involved in some kind of punishment. The nine demonstrators who were involved in the vandalization of the 777 have been arrested though. In the end, the aviation industry is not as harmful to the environment as people think, and more ways to make air travel more efficient are constantly being developed.
Cover photo: Good Word News