Make them pay

Activists holding banners opposing private jets, inside EBACE

Geneva, 23.05.2023 – A hundred climate activists supporting Greenpeace, Stay Grounded, Extinction Rebellion, Scientist Rebellion and other climate justice groups from 17 countries  have disrupted Europe’s biggest sales fair of private jets, the annual European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) in Geneva, demanding a ban on private jets. The action follows a series of protests against private jets, including at the Amsterdam Schiphol airport and actions as part of the Make Them Pay campaign, in the past months.[1]

Activists are peacefully occupying jets that are exhibited at the business event by Geneva airport, having chained themselves to aircraft gangways and the exhibition entrance in order to keep prospective buyers from entering. The protestors stuck giant tobacco-style health warning labels on the jets marking them as toxic objects and warning that ‘private jets burn our future’, ‘kill our planet’, and ‘fuel inequality’. Public service announcements from loudspeakers carried by the activists exposed the dramatic consequences of private jets for our planet and revealed the hypocrisy of promoting private jets amidst rising social inequality.

Klara Maria Schenk, transport campaigner for Greenpeace’s Mobility for All campaign, said: “For over 20 years, Europe’s super-rich have popped champagne behind closed doors at EBACE while shopping for the latest toxic private jets. Sales of private jets are skyrocketing, and with them the one percent’s hugely unfair contribution to the climate crisis – while the most vulnerable people deal with the damage. It is high time for politicians to put a stop to this unjust and excessive pollution and ban private jets.”

Mira Kapfinger, campaigner from Stay Grounded, a network uniting more than 200 member organisations, said: Whilst many can’t afford food or rent any more, the super rich wreck our planet, unless we put an end to it. Apart from banning private jets, it’s also time to end air miles schemes which reward frequent flying, and instead tax frequent flyers. We need fair climate solutions.

Cordula Markert, spokesperson from Scientist Rebellion Germany, said: “We’re in a climate emergency. Therefore, it is no longer tolerable that the super-rich keep parading themselves in events such as EBACE and keep buying and flying in their private jets for their own benefit, while we know that this fuels the flames of climate breakdown, threatening all of us. They have to be stopped, and that’s why scientists and activists from all over Europe joined together in Geneva, taking action against this madness.”

Joël Perret, spokesperson from Extinction Rebellion Genève, said: “Geneva is home to one of the airports with the most private jet traffic in Europe. This is where change must begin: we need to drastically reduce aviation to halt climate catastrophe and the destruction of life. The first step is to ban private jets now!”

Sales of private jets are expected to reach their highest ever level this year, placing an increasing burden on the planet.[2] According to a recent report, the global fleet of private jets has more than doubled in the last two decades.[3] [4] The total value of private aircraft sold in the past decade is estimated by the industry to be approximately US$241 billion.[5]

EBACE is Europe’s largest – and one of the world’s biggest – annual gatherings of business aviation industry stakeholders such as sellers, buyers, and producers of private jets, hosted by the European and American private jet industry groups EBAA and NBAA. Roughly half of the more than 10.500 visitors own or operate an aircraft.[6]

According to studies, private flights produce about 10 times the CO2 of a commercial flight per passenger kilometre and cause disproportionate amounts of micro-particle pollution and noise, which are harmful to our health, wellbeing, environment and climate.[7] [8] CO2 emissions from private jet traffic in Europe have reached record levels in recent years, according to a study commissioned by Greenpeace CEE. While the rich resort to the world’s most polluting mobility lifestyle to save a few hours, according to Boeing 80% of the world’s population have never flown, but bear the brunt of the climate crisis.[9] An Oxfam study indicates that 20 million people are displaced by extreme weather every year, forced to flee their homes and dying in droughts and floods caused and exacerbated by the climate crisis.[10]

Private jets and other luxury emissions are not currently regulated as such in Europe and largely excluded from key EU legislation that is supposed to tackle greenhouse gas emissions.[11] This negates the fact that private jets are the most polluting, most energy-wasting and inequitable form of transport per passenger and kilometre.


It is not intended to disrupt commercial air traffic at Geneva Airport. Activists decided not to enter or cross taxiways or runways at any time and only to access service roads. This in no way interferes with the safe operation of flights. The airport authorities (air traffic control and Police) were immediately informed by the activists at the beginning of the action and ongoing contact is maintained by the activists in order to avoid any hazardous situation or misinterpretation by airport authorities of the extent and purpose of the ongoing activity.   

[7]  These numbers only consider the CO2 impact of the flights. However, on average, a flight’s CO2 impact must be tripled to account for its total climate impact (e.g. cloudiness and NOx derivatives). See Lee, D.S. et al. (2021): The contribution of global aviation to anthropogenic climate forcing for 2000 to 2018.