Greenpeace activists break onto runway and spray paint plane green

Liam James
·3 min read
 (AFP via Getty)
(AFP via Getty)

Environmental activists have staged a protest against France's upcoming climate crisis bill, which has been criticised for failing to even attempt to meet an internationally agreed target for reducing carbon emissions.

On Friday morning, activists from Greenpeace broke onto a runway in Paris's main flight hub, Charles de Gaulle Airport, and spray painted an Air France plane green.

Others climbed on top of the aircraft holding banners which read: "Climate Law: It does not fly high."

The banners referenced the upcoming Climate and Resilience Bill, due to be be debated in France's parliament in the coming days, which purports to include measures that would bring the country's carbon emissions 40 per cent below 1990 levels within a decade.

The bill seeks to abolish short flights, ban the advertising of fossil fuels and take the most-polluting vehicles off the roads by 2030, among other measures.

But it has been roundly criticised on several fronts, including by the government's own independent climate watchdog, the High Council for the Climate, which said the measures will have a "limited impact" on reducing emissions.

AFP via Getty
AFP via Getty

A citizen's assembly on climate change set up by the government to inform the bill said it was lacking in ambition after fewer than half of their recommendations were adopted.

And more than 100 NGOs, including Greenpeace and the WWF, recently wrote an open letter to President Emmanuel Macron urging him to draft stronger measures into the bill, noting that the 40 per cent reduction target falls well below the 55 per cent target agreed by EU leaders in December.

Last month, a court in Paris ruled the French state had failed to take sufficient action to meet its goals in reducing greenhouse gases.

Greenpeace staged Friday's protest in direct response to the upcoming bill, with particular focus on French transport minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari's apparent belief that technological innovation will be sufficient in reducing the airline sector's devastating climate impact.

The environmental campaign group warned that the bill still allows for airport extensions, more than a dozen of which they said are currently planned.

The abolition of short flights, Greenpeace said, covers only the shortest flights and should be extended to ban flights where an alternative train journey of up to six hours is available if the policy is to have a real benefit to the climate.

Citing research by B&L Evolution, a Paris-based environmental consulatancy firm, Greenpeace said green innovation in aeroplane technology was a "false solution" due to the speed of development, with planes running on synthetic fuels not expected to be commercially viable until 2035 at the earliest.

Greenpeace posted footage of protesters painting the aircraft on Twitter and linked Mr Djebbari's official account, referencing his hopes for green aircraft.

Mr Djebbari, who is a trained pilot, responded to suggest criminal proceedings would be brought against the activists and went on to say his department was carrying out an investigation.

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