Citizens from all over Europe are uniting in a call to limit air traffic

On 13th March 17 demonstrations took place all over France and beyond to demand a cap on flights at all the airports.
Residents around five major European airports are calling for a significant reduction in air traffic. It can no longer be explained that this subject is not seriously discussed in European politics.

The Dutch decision to downsize Schiphol is an inspiration for residents elsewhere in the European Union. They now want their governments to follow the good example of Minister Mark Harbers. To achieve this, the European Commission must reconsider its position as an obstacle to shrinkage. The call:

Restricting air traffic: a necessary measure for health and the climate!
‘We, the residents around Europe’s five busiest airports – Paris-Charles de Gaulle, London-Heathrow, Madrid-Barajas, Frankfurt Main and Schiphol – call on our governments and Europe to set a maximum number of flights for all airports in order to to halt the uncontrolled growth of air traffic.

Air traffic is almost back to 2019 levels and could double by 2040. This would be catastrophic, knowing that this growth is not compatible with climate goals or with protecting the health of people affected by noise and air pollution.

The scientific studies are clear and leave no room for doubt. In addition, there are alternatives by train for many European destinations. Given this situation, clear and decisive political choices must be made, as was recently the case for Schiphol.

Schiphol international example
The Dutch government and the CEO of Schiphol have realized that the growth of air traffic is no longer sustainable. That is why they want to reduce the number of flights, ban night flights, ban private aviation and plans for a new runway have been scrapped.

“We cannot ask people in the region to make sacrifices for years for people who fly for just a holiday,” said Ruud Sondag , the airport’s previous CEO. Tens of millions of people are bothered by aircraft noise and pollution day and night. Noise is a major public health problem , causing sleep disorders, cognitive problems, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

In France alone, the social costs are estimated at 6.1 billion euros per year. Yet none of the European airports comply with European directives and regulations that require them to draw up plans to reduce noise. On the contrary, noise levels around airports continue to rise, as shown by official noise maps.

250,000 deaths due to ultra fine particles|
Every year, air pollution causes more than 250,000 deaths in Europe. Aviation makes an important local contribution to this. The ultra fine particles emitted from aircraft engines are smaller than those from diesel engines and therefore more toxic . But they are not regulated or measured. Air pollution from airports remains a forgotten topic in air quality policy.

As far as the climate is concerned, the impact of aviation is far from negligible. Commercial aviation is responsible for almost 5 percent of European CO2 emissions and almost 7 percent of those in France. A study shows that the twenty most polluting airports in the world – including Paris-CDG, London-Heathrow, Frankfurt and Schiphol – emitted as much CO2 as 58 coal-fired power stations in 2019 ! And we are not yet talking about the climate impact of emissions other than CO2, which at least double the impact of CO2.

The weight of the aviation sector in global CO2 emissions is twice what it was thirty years ago and is all the more disproportionate because only a small part of the population flies, mainly as a leisure activity. At a time when Europe and our governments are asking everyone to make an effort to meet climate commitments, it is difficult to understand why aviation should be exempted.

Technofixes insufficient
If the sector wants to contribute to reducing emissions, reducing air traffic is essential. Technological advances nor so-called ‘sustainable’ aviation fuels will not get the job done in the time we have left.

Two reports published by Amsterdam Airport Schiphol in January 2024 clearly show that emissions from Schiphol and European aviation must have decreased by at least 30 percent in 2030 compared to 2019 to comply with the Paris Climate Agreement.

The airport management recognizes that in the short and medium term there is no other solution than to quickly reduce air traffic. This would immediately limit the negative impact on public health. Since such a change of course will have an impact on employment, it is essential to take into account the retraining of the employees involved.

We, the victims of air pollution and the current and future victims of global warming, will take action in France and the rest of Europe from March 13 to 17, 2024, to ask our governments and the European Commission to follow the course which has been initiated by the Netherlands, by finally taking concrete measures: limiting the number of flights to ensure that noise, air pollution and CO2 emissions decrease – plus a night closure for all airports.’

Signed in Paris on March 12, 2024

Françoise Brochot (chairman Advocnar and member GARE), Audrey Boehly (spokesperson Collectif Non au T4), Chantal Beer-Demander (chairman UFCNA)

Steve Rising Tide (Stay Grounded United Kingdom Coordinator), Anna Hughes (Flight Free UK Director)

Michael Flörsheimer (member BBI-Bündnis der Bürgerinitiativen im Rhein-Main-Gebiet)

Juan Manuel Martínez (spokesman Plataforma contra la ampliación de Baraja), Pablo Muñoz Nieto (sustainable mobility campaign coordinator at Ecologistas en Acción), Enrique Villalobos (chairman of Federación Regional de Asociaciones Vecinales de Madrid), María Roca (member of the advisory board of Asociación Española de Educación Ambiental), Rosa María Prieto Fernández (member of Asociación Vecinal de Mejorada del Campo), Eloy Rodríguez (member of Plataforma contra el ruido de San Fernando de Henares), Esther Moraga (member of Asociación Vecinal Parque Henares), Jesús Fernández Guinea ( member of Asociación Vecinal Jarama), Gabriel Reina (member of Asociación por la Defensa de Belvis)

Alfred Blokhuizen (chairman of Schipholwatch), Roald Fekken (member of Amsterdam Fossil Free), Matt Poelmans (member of the Environment Without Flight Hindrance), Wouter Looman (board member of Platform Vliegoverlast Amsterdam), Johan Vollenbroek (chairman of the Mobilization for the Environment Foundation)

Source SchipholWatch on March 12, 2024
Photo is from our French friends