Greenpeace activists, who managed to gain airside access at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, have left an Air France Boeing 777 covered in green paint and possibly minor structural damage, in an attempt to highlight aviation as a factor in the earths declining environmental state.

The aircraft involved was a Boeing 777-200ER, registered F-GSPB, and has been on the ground for nearly a year. It is unlikely that the aircraft was specifically targeted, rather it was the closest and/or easiest for the Greenpeace members to access.

Perhaps more concerning is the fact that these members bypassed airport security; they managed to gain airside access, raising many internal, and external, questions about the security operations at the time and if there was any inside aid given to the operation.

After the aircraft had green paint lathered over its fuselage, and ladders propped up incorrectly on critical flight surfaces, the people involved broadcasted the actions on social media. At the time, confidence would have been above normal; with masks and coveralls protecting their identity as they sought to get their message across to the world.

What are they telling us?

By painting the aircraft green, Greenpeace is visually showcasing their criticism on the government greenwashing air transport.

“Faced with the climate crisis, it is necessary to regulate and reduce air traffic, so that it is compatible with the Paris Agreement; while anticipating the reconversion of this sector and the social consequences that this would have for all workers and affected workers.”

Greenpeace, France

The move comes just days before parliamentary debates on the Climate and Resilience bill are set to begin, which involves reducing French carbon emissions by 40 percent in 2030 compared to 1990 levels.

However, Greenpeace is not satisfied with the proposals and messages being released by parliament; specifically noting that the technological advancements, praised by the French Minister for Transport, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, are not enough to meet the goal.

Key factors that Greenpeace would like to be addressed in the bill include:

  • Airport Extensions
  • Short Flights
  • Expedited Development of Rail Projects

Elaborating on these points, Greenpeace wants all airport extensions to be stopped; primarily because they believe the only way to achieve the emissions target is to cull the majority of air transport.

This especially applies to short-haul flights under six-hours; which they argue should be banned as they can be fulfilled by rail transport, hence the move to increase rail transport options around Europe.

Greenpeace Activists Vandalise Air France 777
Air France Airbus A321

In spite of the callout against airport expansion, it was only last month that plans to expand Paris CDG were culled as they were deemed “obsolete” against new and upcoming climate goals. The expansion would have seen an increase of 40 million passengers a year from 2037, with an estimated completion cost of €7-9 billion.

Greenpeace has also underlined their dissatisfaction with airlines getting out of environmental obligations through carbon offsetting. Alternatively, emissions should be cut significantly; which doesn’t come fast enough or at all with newer aircraft.

All the options new and existing aircraft manufacturers are researching, including hydrogen and electric power, have been dismissed by Greenpeace because a) batteries and electric motors are too heavy to be a worthy option, b) hydrogen is sourced using large amounts of fossil fuels and c) synthetic fuels are hard to manufacturer and carry the same production issues as hydrogen.

But this is where controversy fires up as technological development, trial and error and ongoing research are the only ways we get to better results for multiple parties. Although they may not present good or as good options now, the colossal work being undertaken by these companies is what will ultimately lead the way to cleaner skies.

What are your thoughts on this action?