Activism Personal


Air travel emissions only amount to 2% of all the carbon we emit, but it would be cut in half if a few selfish billionaires could put up with flying in first class instead of in private jets. No one needs a private jet. No one needs to go to a climate crisis conference in a private jet.

A group of people walk through a forest. They are wearing white jumpsuits and carrying pink and yellow flags.
A group of people in white jumpsuits pass under a bridge. A road sign in beside them shows that they are heading to Schiphol Airport. They are carrying red flags.

I took a week out of university and activism in the UK to travel to the Netherlands (by train and ferry!) to join Dutch Rhythms of Resistance activists at the Greenpeace/Extinction Rebellion demo to ground private jets at Schiphol Airport, but it didn’t go as we expected. Protesters were asked to walk steadily and calmly, but instead they ran and we couldn’t move fast enough to keep up because of our instruments and because some people in our band weren’t physically able to. We were left behind outside the gate, but were soon joined by more people, including a second band that also didn’t expect to run.

A wide view of Schiphol Airport’s car park. In the distance, a group of people in white jumpsuits carrying different coloured flags cross the car park.
People in white jumpsuits are playing musical instruments in Schiphol Airport car park. There are people with drums, a guitar, and a microphone.

Making activism inclusive is a challenge because powerful tactics such as moving in crowds, doing direct action, and making loud noise can also be unpredictable and inaccessible to some. I don’t think it was anyone’s fault that some protesters were left behind, and we were all safe, but I think it could have been better communicated that there would be people in the group who were not able to run. Or on the other hand, we could have planned to play outside the airport. Inclusivity isn’t about limiting people, it’s about communicating needs and working with people’s strengths.

People carrying drums away from Schiphol Airport. One is wearing a white jumpsuit.