Sitdown protests are part of a day of demonstrations in and around Schiphol airport
Dutch border police arrested hundreds of climate activists who stormed Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport and sat in front of the wheels of aircraft to prevent them from leaving.
More than 100 protesters, wearing white suits, entered an area where private jets are kept on Saturday as part of a day of demonstrations in and around the airport organised by environmental groups.
Dewi Zloch, the Netherlands campaign leader for Greenpeace, one of the groups involved, said: “We want fewer flights, more trains and a ban on unnecessary short-haul flights and private jets.”
Greenpeace says Schiphol is the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the Netherlands, emitting 12bn kilograms annually.
Extinction Rebellion was also involved in the action. Hundreds of other demonstrators in and around the airport’s main hall carried signs saying “Restrict aviation” and “More trains”.
About three hours after the protest began, border police started arresting activists, some of whom were dragged to waiting buses after passively resisting arrest, AFP reported.
“We take this very seriously,” Dutch border police spokesperson Major Robert van Kapel said.
“These people are facing charges relating to being in a place where they should not have been,” he said, adding that prosecutors will now formulate the exact charge.
The activists were taken to various border police offices around the airfield where they were being processed and identified, Van Kapel said.
Van Kapel said no commercial flights were affected by the protest.
There were also reports of border police tackling several activists on bicycles as they tried to escape.
Greenpeace said police were “far too heavy-handed against the activists on bicycles” and that at least one person received a head injury.
In response to the protest, Schiphol stated that it supported goals for the aviation industry to reach net zero emissions by 2050 and that it aimed to become an emissions-free airport by 2030.
Ruud Sondag, the new CEO of Schiphol, acknowledged on Friday that change needed to occur more quickly in response to an open letter from Greenpeace.
With regards to air pollution and climate change, the Dutch government announced plans in June to cap annual passenger numbers at the airport at 440,000, which is roughly 11% less than 2019 levels.
The government is debating whether to include the issue in its climate policy, the transport minister, Mark Harbers, told parliament last month. His office is unable to control the growing private jet traffic.
The UN climate talks, which begin on Sunday in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, are expected to draw more than 120 world leaders.
Since many years ago, Extinction Rebellion has issued warnings about the effects of air travel on the environment. In October 2019, a protester boarded a British Airways plane at London City airport and was later seen lying on top of it. On the third day of those protests in London, other protesters held a sit-in at the airport entrance.
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