Young people, become a climate activist and do not choose a profession in the aviation sector – Joop

29-10-2022

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Aviation workers must be prepared for attrition. Instead, we create our own resistance with training courses specially designed for companies such as Schiphol, KLM, Transavia, TUI and Corendon.

If you repeat it often enough, you will automatically believe it. VVD Member of Parliament Daniel Koerhuis has often said that the aviation sector in the Netherlands is good for 300,000 jobs. That number is an exaggeration, but it doesn’t matter. In the world of aviation, people sometimes think that all the prosperity in the Netherlands is due to aviation, and it is the parties on the right – VVD, JA21 – that support this sector the most. Coincidentally, also lots that don’t care much about residents and the climate.

That appointment is not something that should be changed easily. Work is identity, and starting a brand new career is not something you just do. It is therefore logical that there are parties fighting for jobs in aviation. But what amazes me is how we continue to create our own resistance by continuing to train people for a sector that needs to shrink drastically. In this way, we create a fossil lock-in without having an open conversation about it.

As a teacher, I have been associated with an aviation school for over three years now. I have enthusiastic, willing to learn students and I have very nice colleagues. But the greenwashing in the sector is unbearable. It gets in the way of a reasonable conversation. That is why I interfered in the public debate. Successfully. Several times, through complaint procedures at home and abroad, I have revealed how airlines mislead consumers about the sustainability of their flights.

Climate knowledge
This is close to my heart. As a teacher at a flight school, I have experience with two interrelated social problems. Firstly, the problem of low literacy and secondly, the problem of low climate knowledge. Low literacy makes people have difficulty with complex and formal language. Climate awareness is about how well people understand the causes and consequences of global warming and whether people experience an action perspective to do something about it. The latter relates to the interpretation of citizenship. Do we feel powerless as individuals, or can we also contribute to system change?

Fossil deception is a huge obstacle in this regard. Whether it’s Shell, KLM or other polluters: use the raw power of repetition to send people the message that big steps are being taken to become more sustainable, and the effect will be that people will separate fact from fiction less easily and only that which keeps messing around as a consumer. Not everyone will blindly believe such talk, but misinformation is also harmful if enough people believe it a little. That is why court cases like Fossielvrij NL v KLM are so important, because without a clear decision from a judge, all positions seem equal in the public debate. Airlines don’t have credible plans to meet climate targets, but give aviation representatives a stage and they’ll have enough talking points to talk about. A more economical fleet, electric flight, something with hydrogen, flight on bio or synthetic petroleum. Keep calm and keep flying. Everything will be fine, really.

Growing to be sustainable
That doesn’t stop us from getting there. Humans are tribal beings. If you look at the world of aviation as a ‘tribe’, you will see that the leaders of this tribe preach the gospel of growth as the path to a sustainable, climate-neutral future. These people know for sure that aviation worldwide is not going to shrink, that people will continue to fly anyway (because India and China and also life needs to remain a little comfortable) and that in order to invest in sustainability, you have to make money first .

What the airline bosses are doing with this is mainly to mask the complete political unwillingness to be firmly regulated by (international) politics. For example, it is possible that all major European airlines are lobbying against effective climate policy in Brussels while playing nice weather at home. Don’t think an aviation representative will ever talk about a major rectification campaign, a European ban on fossil sponsorship and advertising, a frequent flyer tax, excise duties on petroleum and other measures to curb demand for air travel. In the world of international aviation, bluff and deception are one fact: greenwashing, everyone does it right? Growth, that’s what the local pastry chef wants too, right? Of course the climate is very important. But why always focus on aviation?

People in a tribe repeat the words of their leaders. As a result, people tend to shield themselves from unwelcome knowledge and information. KLM is not just a company, but a family, a blue family. Marjan Rintel may be the boss, but that talking points by Camiel Eurling and Pieter Elber’s echo. About the promise of flies in the frying pan. About how planting trees is also a good thing. How Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) will one day become very big and very much sustainable is.

Fossil advertising kills
This is why the fight against fossil fraud is so urgent. We’ve been screwed together long enough. In front of my dormitory there are some concrete tiles that say ‘smoke-free generation’. That battle is a tough one, as the tobacco industry to this day has gotten away with deceptive business practices that even today lead young people into addiction through vaping.

Fossil deception has the same effect. Fossil advertising kills. Fossil advertising normalizes the use of fossil fuels. ONE high carbon lifestyle is constantly presented as desirable in such advertisements. It’s already 2022 and we don’t even have silly warning labels on long-haul commercials, but the question is: is Mexico on your list yet? Bucket list?

Of course, it also affects politicians and political decision-makers. That is why VVD still has the disastrous plan to open Lelystad Airport. Imagine hating the hard-working Dutchman an annual flying holiday. Fossil temptations and deception thus constitute a major barrier to effective climate action and policy.

If we are serious about dealing with global warming, we must be prepared to put ourselves on the line as well. Aviation is a sector that is rightly under a magnifying glass. While emissions in other sectors are already falling, emissions from aviation are still rising. On the one hand, it is due to growth and on the other hand, there are insufficient technologies available for aviation to drastically reduce these emissions. Aerospace engineers recognize that. It is knowledge that calls for responsibility.

An easy way to do that is to simply unsubscribe. There are already people deciding to fly drastically less or stop altogether. It is on the demand side. But there is also a supply side. After all, planes cannot take off without sufficiently qualified personnel. Aviation managers cannot do it alone. They have a big problem when people massively choose other work. At the same time, the employees’ long-term interests are best served if aviation does not use up its remaining CO2 budget too quickly.

We have staff shortages everywhere. In healthcare, in childcare, in technical subjects, in the restaurant industry, with the police, in regional transport and with NS. Important jobs. CDA Member of Parliament Henri Bontenbal made the call: ‘Become a real climate activist’ and mentioned a number of possible professions.

Let’s break the taboo. It no longer serves a social interest to train people for Schiphol, KLM, TUI, Transavia or Corendon. Are you young and do you have the message from Henri Bontenbal or the soup pitchers? Just stop oil understood? So vote with your feet. Together we will put more planes on the ground.

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