A demonstration by Extinction Rebellion Finland is underway at Helsinki-Vantaa airport on Saturday 7 May since 3 pm. Approximately 50 activists have blocked entrance to security check in terminal T2. There is also a demonstration outside the airport building.

The non-violent and peaceful demonstration targets air traffic, aviation companies and political decision-makers, not individual travellers and passengers. In the first protest of its kind in Finland, Extinction Rebellion Finland demands the Government of Finland to include all climate emissions of Finnish passengers’ domestic and international flights and all flights operated by Finnair in Finland’s emission reduction goals. The second demand calls for an overall reduction in air traffic and the number of Finnair flights.

Air travel is an epitome of the inequality and our destructive lifestyle that is built on excess consumption. Finns hold the top position in flights per capita in the world, while air traffic and its climate emissions accelerate at a very fast rate.

Inexpensive air traffic and incentives to use it are the result of political action, not simply the outcome of consumer decisions or civil society action, Extinction Rebellion Finland remarks. International flights and airplane fuels are still not taxed, even though a citizens’ initiative that supports flight tax has been signed by more than 54,000 Finns. The state has also supported Finnair with hundreds of millions of Euros in coronavirus recovery packages without setting any emission reduction requirements. State-owned airline Finnair normalises pleasure flights with massive advertising campaigns and misleads people about the environment destruction caused by air travel using emission calculation tricks and compensation schemes. Instead of compensating for air travel, the existing carbon sinks are needed to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, Extinction Rebellion Finland continues.

Flying is also a question of class and wealth – both in Finland and abroad. In 2018, only 11 % of the world’s population used air travel, and the top 1% frequent flyers caused half of all CO2 emissions from air travel. In Finland, traffic emissions caused by affluent travellers are four times as high as those of the lower-income segments. The majority of flights of Finnish passengers are holiday flights to international destinations made for fun and new experiences.

“However, the frequent flyers or – especially – those who fly seldom are not the main culprits of the accelerating ecological catastrophe fuelled by air travel. We have to see past flight shaming to the core of the problem. Government and corporations have made air travel artificially inexpensive and attractive in relation to other forms of transport. You can get a bargain flight to London for ten euros, which is more than you pay for a train ticket from Helsinki to Tampere”, media representative Aliisa Maunula comments.

“The well-off waste an enormous part of global energy resources and accelerate climate change. Meanwhile, the effects of environmental destruction hit especially those who fly the least – the individuals whose homes are already being washed away and whose crops are scorched in the climate crisis”, Aki Saariaho elaborates on the grounds of the protest.

The demonstration is part of Extinction Rebellion Finland’s Overconsumption Rebellion, a national campaign of demonstrations and protests that runs from 6 to 21 May.

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