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Stay Grounded In Review: 2020 – The Year That Changed Everything?
This was a difficult year for everyone. The pandemic that took us all by surprise and caused so much pain, also grounded most flights. We look back on a special, difficult year, but one that was also full of advances and successes for our network.
After the coronavirus pandemic hit and grounded most planes, the aviation industry didn’t waste any time and immediately begged for public bailout money. As a network we swiftly adapted to the changing situation, firstly by making it crystal clear that putting public money into the dirty and harmful aviation industry would not be possible without protest. We received broad support for our demands to #SavePeopleNotPlanes from more than 340 organisations, over 300 experts and 100.000 people who signed our petition – and brought our demands into the media and to governments.
As the first wave of the pandemic began to subside, we paused to reflect on what the new situation means for us in the medium and long term, at our network meeting in May. We decided to focus our activities on a just transition of the aviation industry. Right now we are finishing a discussion paper that proposes a pathway to transform the aviation industry, in a way that leaves no one behind and works for people and planet. It will be released next year and we hope it will spark a discussion. With the aviation industry lobbying for bailouts to get back to it’s devastating pre-Covid growth path, we also recognise the need to continue our work debunking the industry’s greenwashing attempts.
We published a fact sheet on the real climate impact of aviation, assembling the latest research on climate heating from aviation, so we can be clear on the scale of the task ahead. The result: the total aviation-caused climate heating is 3 times that of CO2 alone. This means that in 2018, air traffic contributed almost 6% of all human-induced climate heating. These numbers are shocking when considering that this impact is caused by a tiny fraction of the world population. A new study released this year showed that just 1% of the world population emits 50% of the CO2 from commercial aviation.
We also supported our members taking action in these challenging times, like the march on 18 airports in France and Mexico and the blockade of hundreds of penguin activists at the opening of Berlin Airport, in Germany. We helped spread information and mobilised against the planned construction of Nijgadh Airport in Nepal, and supported the creation of protest-flour cultivated on fields threatened by Vienna Airport expansion in Austria. We also continued our mapping work – the Environmental Justice Atlas now includes more than 70 in-depth cases of airport related injustice and resistance. But a just and climate-safe mobility is not only about reducing air traffic and airports. It is about building a mobility system and infrastructure that supports the freedom of movement but at the same time doesn’t destroy local territories and the climate. So sometimes we also need to support the fight against new train projects like in the case of the so called Maya train in Mexico.
We also had a lot of exchange with other organisations and other networks this year – and welcomed many new members from various countries all over the world, some of the newest ones being from China, the Netherlands and Ghana. We are happy about each and every one of our long-standing and new members, their stories, struggles and expertise and commitment.
We worked with partners to address the travel policies of organisations – and the potential for change that lies within them. And we have held countless webinars to educate and discuss with each other.
One of our big goals is to expand the work together with our members in the Global South. As a first step, we organised regional exchange meetings for members in Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean Asia. Next year, we will continue to grow this work!
Looking to 2021, we plan to broaden our agenda; how to reframe, rethink and reshape aviation and how to ground it in a new economy.
The path ahead is not easy. To succeed, we have to strengthen and expand our movement and apply even more pressure. We need all the support we can get for this. Let’s stay grounded in 2021!