We stand in solidarity with the activists in France and the UK, who now face evictions and jail sentences for standing up to protect the climate during protests against the expanding aviation industry. They took bold steps where governments have stumbled, acting out of principle to try and stop the increase in pollution to our air and atmosphere by an industry whose reckless expansion poses a grave threat to our climate.

Today, courts in each country simultaneously announced verdicts against the #Heathrow13 and 11 families from Notre-Dame-des-Landes (near Nantes) who have taken a peaceful stand against airport expansion. We are grateful for their dedication and shocked by the unjust and disproportionate verdicts that fail to take into account the overwhelming threat posed by climate change.

The suggestion by the court in the UK that jail time for this peaceful protest is “almost inevitable” will only re-invigorate the debate around the need for a 3rd runway at Heathrow and aviation expansion across Europe. It also raises the question of whether harsh sentences could be used to deter future dissent over increased air traffic.

The verdict refers to the costs incurred by a polluting industry as a result of the protest, but doesn’t recognise the urgent need to protect people from the economic and human costs of climate change.

In France, the court confirmed the evictions of eleven families to build a new airport in Notre-Dame-des-Landes, close to Nantes. Farmers and environmentalists have been fighting the planned airport for forty years, occupying the area and mobilising tens of thousands in protest. That fight will surely continue.

In the words of the Heathrow 13: “When the democratic, legislative and political processes have failed, it takes the actions of ordinary people to change them.”

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