Climate activists target luxury yachts, jets

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. penchant / ˈpɛn tʃənt / (n.) – a strong preference for something or a strong urge to act or behave in a certain way

    Her penchant for music led to her becoming a successful singer.

  2. intensify / ɪnˈtɛn səˌfaɪ / (v.) – to become stronger or more powerful

    People’s support for stricter environmental laws intensified after wildfires broke out in different areas.

  3. ignite / ɪgˈnaɪt / (v.) – to cause something dangerous, exciting, or angering to happen suddenly

    The president’s controversial decision ignited negative reactions from many groups of people.

  4. tactic / ˈtæk tɪk / (n.) – an action or method that is organized and used to accomplish a specific goal

    The sales team’s tactics didn’t attract customers to the company’s newest product.

  5. anecdotal / ˌæn ɪkˈdoʊt l / (adj.) – based on a story or information that someone saw, heard, or read rather than proven facts

    There is only anecdotal evidence that this medicine works. No doctors recommend taking it.


Read the text below.

The ultra-wealthy’s mega yachts, private jets, luxury mansions and penchant for water-guzzling activities like golf have made them easy targets for some climate activists this summer who are ramping up protests against the extravagant but emissions-spewing lifestyles they see as a threat to the planet.

This summer, Spanish climate activist group Futuro Vegetal — or Vegetable Future — spray-painted a $300 million super yacht belonging to Walmart heir Nancy Walton Laurie on the island of Ibiza in Spain. Protesters held up a sign that read, “You consume, others suffer.”

Climate activism has intensified in the past few years as the planet continues to warm and looks likely to shoot past the globally agreed warming limit of 1.5 Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit), igniting more extreme heat, floods, storms and wildfires around the world.

Tactics have been getting more radical, with some protestors gluing themselves to roads, disrupting high-profile sporting events and even last year’s highly controversial splashing of famous pieces of artwork with paint or soup. They’re now turning their attention to the wealthy.

“Luxury practices are disproportionately contributing to the climate crisis at this point,” said University of Maryland social scientist Dana Fisher. “It makes a lot of sense for these activists to be calling out this toxic behavior, so I think it’s not anecdotal at all (targeting luxury), but rather a small bit of the movement that is going to probably getting a lot more attention in the coming years.”

In May, some 100 activists disrupted Europe’s biggest private jet sales fair in Geneva. Activists chained themselves to aircraft gangways and the exhibition entrance.

Protesters have long targeted some of the world’s most profitable companies – oil and gas conglomerates, investment banks and insurance firms that continue to invest in fossil fuels – with their actions, although the targeting of specific individuals seems a more recent development.

Some things are moving at the legislative level, particularly on air transportation. France is cracking down on the use of private jets for short journeys. Earlier this year, the Netherlands’ Schiphol Airport also announced plans to ban private jets.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Protestors’ tactics are becoming more radical, with some gluing themselves to roads or splashing pieces of artwork with paint or soup. In your opinion, are these actions helpful or disruptive? Why do you say so? Discuss.
  • What do you think are the protestors’ motives for doing these tactics? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • According to a social scientist, “Luxury practices are disproportionately contributing to the climate crisis at this point.” What luxury practices do you think are harmful to the environment? Discuss.
  • Given the chance, would you protest against these luxury practices and toxic behaviors of many wealthy people? Why or why not? Do you support activists in calling out wealthy people’s toxic behaviors that affect the environment? Discuss.