Just four years ago Karen Killen and bilbo they lived completely normal lives. She worked in the hotel sector and he was a lawyer. But back in 2019, the environmental outburst broke into their lives and the pushed towards climate activism. Karen, already retired, founded the group ‘Extinction Rebellion Ibiza’ and, later, Bilbo left her job and became one of the creators of the ‘Futuro Vegetal’ platform. In recent weeks, both entities have staged a protest against “luxury emissions” in which they have ‘attacked’ yachts, private jets and luxury cars in Ibiza.
THE NEWSPAPER talk to these two activists (and who have even been arrested by them) to understand their demands.
— For days Ibiza has become a new (and unexpected) epicenter of climate protests.
That’s how it is. We have carried out a whole week of actions. We went to the door of Pachá Ibiza and poured agave syrup over the club’s famous cherries. We break into a fancy private club. We organized a march on the beach. We sneak into the private jet area of Ibiza airport, pour paint on a plane and stick to it. We painted a showroom Lamborghini. We protested in front of a 300 million euro yacht owned by Nancy Walton Laurie, the heiress to the multinational supermarket Walmart, and we also threw paint on it. The police evicted us and arrested us after several of these actions.
“We cannot ask the workers to change cars and allow the mega-rich to pollute as if nothing had happened”
— What was the objective of all these protests?
ask for the end of luxury emissions. A private jet in just two hours emits the same as an average citizen in two years. A megayacht generates more than 7,000 tons of CO2 year. These figures are totally obscene. Especially at a time when the scientific community is calling for drastic cuts in emissions to prevent extreme global warming. What cannot be is that ordinary citizens try to do their bit and millionaires continue polluting as if nothing had happened.
“A private jet in just two hours emits the same as an average citizen in two years”
— Why exactly in Ibiza?
Because Ibiza is a ‘brand’ with a lot of international projection. The city has become an amusement park for the mega-rich of the planet and, at the same time, a place of contrasts. While some people live surrounded by increasingly eccentric luxuries, others have nowhere to live. There are people who work on the island and live in tents because they can’t afford to pay rent. It is a symbol of all that is wrong. But he’s not the only one. We are carrying out actions throughout Spain.
— What have these protests served for?
For us it has been a success. The people on the street have shown us their support. Even one of the policemen who stopped us told us that he agreed with what we stood for. We also know that several mega yachts have canceled their stay in Ibiza after our protests last week. In addition, the actions have had a lot of international repercussion and, in a certain way, we feel that we have contributed to putting the debate on the table.
— Why have you focused your protests specifically against the rich?
The climate crisis is the fault of a structural and systemic problem and, although we all participate in it, the rich are the ones who feed it the most. Right now we know that the richest 1% of the population pollutes the same as the poorest 53%. We cannot ask the ‘workers’ to change cars while the mega-rich pollute as if nothing had happened. Nor is it normal that the fuel used by private jets is exempt from taxes and the one you put in your car is not. Because of things like this, there are people who feel that environmental measures are unfair.
“Right now we know that the richest 1% of the population pollutes the same as the poorest 53%”
— And how do people react to this approach?
It is curious because more and more of the super-rich are supporting the environmental cause. Not long ago we watched Walt Disney heiress Abigail Disney protest private jets in the Hamptons. Lewis Hamilton, the Formula 1 driver, has publicly supported protests by groups like ‘Just Oil’. But on the other hand we also see working class people defending the unbridled consumption of the rich. It is curious how some empathize more with billionaires than with the people around them who cannot pay their bills and who are suffering the effects of the climate crisis.
— A few months ago we saw how climate protests focused on museums. Now, in the luxury industry. Is the environmental movement increasing the intensity of its actions?
Yes it’s correct. But it’s not because we want to. It is because all the scientific studies carried out to date say that we are running out of time and that we either act now or we are lost. The situation is so serious that it is pushing us to always go one step further to attract the attention of society and governments. If it were up to us, we wouldn’t be here, exposing ourselves to fines and arrests. I wish people realized the gravity of the situation and we didn’t have to do any of this.