Protest #7 on Saturday, 2019-05-04, Stockholm Arlanda Airport

Prolog

After a first spontaneous protest against climate breakdown [1] which lead to some confrontation with security personal, I tried to be good and applied for a formal permission at the police on 2019-04-02. About one month later on 2019-05-03, I received the permission to protest at Stockholm Arlanda Airport [2]. With only one day to prepare and organize other protesters, I gave it a try anyway.

After I arrived I contacted the information desk and asked for contact with police or security to get instructions on where I a was allowed to protest. Although I applied for protesting in the Terminal 5 building, arrival area, I was instructed to limit the protest to the arrival area outside the Terminal 5 building, where private cars, taxis, and buses arrive. The traffic out there was much lower than inside the building, but it kept me busy anyway with more passengers than I could handle.

Material

I used a poster [3] that I had designed the evening before, stating  “Air travel risks climate breakdown!” and giving an example that a flight Stockholm-Bangkok-Stockholm emits 4.2 tons CO2e. These emissions are more than the 2.3 tons CO2e carbon budget per person per year based on the 2 degree Celsius target of the Paris Agreement. For reference, on average a person emitted 10.1 tons CO2e in 2016 in Sweden. Yes, these are tough facts, which make these protests seem hopeless, but … I also distributed my “Bend the carbon curve!” stickers [4], which show the carbon curve (Keeling curve), which I found a easy way to get into contact with passengers.

Action

I protested against air travel risking climate breakdown between 13:00 and 15:00 on Saturday, 2019-05-04, at the car arrival area at Terminal 5, Stockholm Arlanda Airport. I distributed around 140 to 160 “Bend the carbon curve!” stickers. About 30% of the passengers ignored me or tried to avoid me by walking another way around me. About 30% of the passengers politely declined. The remaining passengers agreed to take a climate sticker, with a few engaging in a short discussion. It was visible that many passengers felt slightly stressed by my presence, although I only received one angry sounding comment (which I did not understand though :-). This time I noticed that there were many passengers carrying extra large lengthy, heavy bags with them, which did not seem to contain skiing equipment, but maybe diving equipment (just guessing).

The jackpot, however, was the arrival of two buses of chinese children (8 to 10 years old) from Bejing, who were obviously part of a large orchestra, because they carried musical instruments with them. Amids the chaos leaving the buses, finding there instruments, talking in Chinese, it was not possible to get through to them, also because the little Chinese I have is quite rusty. However, after things had settled down a bit, I asked around (“Shuō yīngyǔ ma?” (说英语吗?), a little fellow was coming over who could obviously speak fluent English. After I showed him my stickers and explained my purpose, he immediately ran off to bother some of the accompanying adults, and finally brought one teacher with him, who I talked to and agreed to take about 30 climate stickers to hand it out to the children and explain to them what was about. So, I guess, I can safely say, that a very limited edition of my custom-mad “Bend the carbon curve!” stickers have now entered China and the Chinese school system :-). Considering the lack of climate awareness in countries like China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, etc (cf geographic distribution of Fridays for Future protests), I think this is an important group to raise awareness.

Epilog

Overall I think the action was successful, considering that it was organised in very short time. Since the announcement of the action received considerable attention on social media, not least by the climate action group Flyglarm Arlanda, I am expecting that there will be more participants over the next weekends.

References:

[1] http://biosphere.wilmarigl.de/?p=562

[2] http://biosphere.wilmarigl.de/?page_id=632

[3] http://biosphere.wilmarigl.de/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Poster_Flight_Emissions_2x2.pdf
(Tutorial: http://biosphere.wilmarigl.de/?p=17)

[4] http://biosphere.wilmarigl.de/?p=543

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