MIAMI – Today, non-governmental environmental organization Greenpeace trespassed Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) and vandalized an Air France (AF) Boeing 777-200ER aircraft.

The group bypassed security in an action that could have endangered air safety, an action that was anything but green. Greenpeace “activists” illegally entered a strategically vulnerable facility. They then used banned equipment to vandalize AF property.

This action raises questions in CDG security. France has suffered several terrorist attacks in years past and airports have been critical targets. If a group of activists can enter the tarmac without proper checks and stay there for minutes, the fear is that something worse could happen.

As today’s action was a serious security breach, the airport is certainly set to improve further its security measures.

Not Really Green

The action itself is, again, still not green. The group damaged the aircraft’s surface with the ladders used, and we do not know if the paint itself was eco-friendly. The airline will now have to send this plane to maintenance checks where the repairs will also not be so eco-friendly.

Furthermore, Greenpeace had to use land vehicles to transport their ladders and equipment. 60% of transportation CO2 emissions come from cars and 26% from trucks. Not only that, if they had used electric cars, we could then talk about the “greenness” of the process involved in acquiring lithium. Finally, we have the subsequent criminal proceedings involving lots of papers, which mean the loss of trees.

In light of this, was the action for the environment really worth it?

Transportation CO2 emissions by means of transportation. Source: EU Study

Stop Targeting Aviation

Green “activists” have targetted civil aviation in the past. However, they fail to see that when doubling down on data, we can find that less than 4% of global CO2 emissions come from civil aviation. This 4% is vital for transportation as there is no current alternative to flying long-distance.

Environmental activist Greta Thunberg’s sea voyage proves this point. A crew had to fly to the US to bring the ship back, causing as many CO2 emissions as her sea voyage had saved. It seems that actions do not correspond to words here.

The truth of the matter is that aviation is making strides like never before to cut its environmental footprint. The industry is improving unlike other sectors to make Co2 emissions 4% even less. Flights are also becoming carbon and plastic neutral, airlines are testing out bio-fuels and the industry has been hard at work developing hydrogen-powered planes. It is in its best interest to do so.

F-GSPS, another Boeing 777-200ER of Air France. The incident aircraft is F-GSPB. Picture credit: Liam Funnell / Airways Magazine. Instagram: @downwindaviation_

Double Standards

While hyper-loops may doubtfully reduce aviation’s role in transportation, this will be in the long-term, and the aviation industry will remain and will do so with the target to become carbon-free. To justify today’s actions, Greenpeace published its opinion on future developments.

Greenpeace says its activists "entered" the tarmac at the airport to denounce the government's greenwashing on the air. In its relese, the group says that due to climate crisis, France needs "to regulate and reduce air traffic so that it is compatible with the Paris Agreement" while advocationg for the outright "abolition of short flights."

In any case, green organizations should also focus on the real issue: the other 96% that cause harm to the environment.

The fashion industry is responsible for twice as much greenhouse emissions as aviation and maritime transport combined. According to the study cited, by 2050, the fashion industry could be responsible for 26% of CO2 emissions. Greenpeace reported in 2018 that German fashion companies that committed to cut hazardous chemicals from their clothing production by 2020 had all achieved significant progress.

Why are there not any report from the group about what aviation industry is doing to cut its Co2 emissions?

Image: Boom Supersonic

A Greener Air Transport is Underway

With the retirement of old and long-haul aircraft such as the Boeing 747 and the A380 during the pandemic and the acquisition of new, low emissions aircraft across the board, the industry is poised, more than any other, to spearhead a greener air transport.

To know about what the industry is doing in relation to eco-friendly, hybrid, and carbon-free flight technology, Sustainable Air Fuels (SAF), AI-based aviation software, UAS, innovative aircraft design, and supersonic flight, you can read our Innovation series at Airways.

Featured image credits: Alain Jocard/AFP