The social philosopher Henri Pachard wrote: “when the rich turn their backs on the world, they soon find themselves lined up against a wall.” It is the nature of rebellion, never a polite and good-mannered affair but incoherent and angry.
Extension rebellion stormed the barricades at the Mets Trade 2022 recently, unfurling banners, and shouting a lot of abuse about the very existence of superyachts. The Monaco Yacht Show would have been more effective in terms of publicity because Mets is really just an upmarket trade show, but security at Monaco is better and the police less forgiving, so off to Amsterdam they went to try ruin everybody’s day.
It didn’t really work. I was there. But it was the start of something.
They chose the venue of the superyacht forum to make their stand. Martin Redmayne invited them on stage where it was evident that Extinction Rebellion is not as good as engaging in discussion as they are with protesting which they do very effectively.
One of the protesters said that she probably went to school with some of the attendees of the superyacht forum – and as these are generally well-bred individuals, we can assume that the protesters were likewise well schooled. Martin Redmayne had them speak to the crowd and promised that his people would contact their people and they would sort this all out.
Probably this invasion of a superyacht event was inspired by Aileen Getty whose family owns the classic superyacht Talitha. Aileen Getty also funds Just Stop Oil movement in the UK whose followers regularly superglue themselves to motorways to stop the flow of traffic.
Many of the scathing claims made by Extinction Rebellion about superyachts are exaggerated, based on dubious reports posing as science, but their overall point is no doubt valid and certainly not to be ignored. Humanity is facing a catastrophic meltdown in both climate and civilisation. And superyachts do pollute oceans, though this has to been seen in context.
The greatest polluters of the oceans in the Maritime Fleet are all the container ships, carrying thousands of TEUs. Superyachts emit a fraction of these big boys which form the network of globalisation. Stop the container ships from sailing and the global economy would grind to a halt, causing untold misery and poverty.
One of the biggest container lines is Evergreen with a capacity of 2 million TEUs annually – some sixty million cubic metres – which is about thirty five Houston Astrodomes. And Evergreen is only 6% of the global container fleet which volume wise is the equivalent of three hundred and fifty thousand Olympic swimming pools.Annually.
The global superyacht fleet as a trip to Marine Traffic shows is a tiny fraction of the global maritime fleet.
And, of course, the aviation industry emits far more pollution than the maritime superyacht industry, not just cargo but primarily passenger traffic.
However, superyachts are sexy and have a high media profile. Beyonce does not charter a Maersk Line container vessel to cruise the med. Superyachts are highly visible.
Most of the protesters of the anti-climate movement are well educated, reasonably affluent, and middle-class people. The working classes have been beaten down by the daily struggle to survive, anaesthetised by social media and rarely protest about anything.
When you have a well educated and highly motivated movement targeting you, it’s time to get concerned. Extension rebellion won’t stop at being told now, now, behave you naughty boys and girls, and can’t we all be reasonable adults?
This is not the end of it. Extinction Rebellion are maybe useless at engaging in polite discussion, but they certainly do now how to protest in a big way.
The biggest takeaway though on this METs protest is that the Movement does not accept the practice of science washing, a form of greenwashing in the form of eco projects to assure everybody that the world’s big corporations do care about the environment – and are doing their part. All good PR exercise, they say. The Water Revolution Foundation did not impress them at all.
Extinction Rebellion accuses the superyacht industry of posturing in science washing , such as inviting a couple of oceanographers to undertake research, or of making vague promises of sustainable solutions, saying that these are token gestures that mean nothing, while the key players get on with on with the real business which is essentially about making sales and charters and earning commission.
Extreme and exaggerated perhaps but unless the industry changes its MO, its existence will be threatened A commitment to preserve the ecosphere has to be at the very heart of every single business involved in the industry – not only the builders and major players – we know who they are – but the the entirety of suppliers, the logistics people , the small businesses, from the people who deliver the flowers to the restaurants who serve them when they are onshore.
Every single entity involved in the biz has to be fully committed to the cause,
If not, inevitably retribution will not just be an inconvenience such as carbon taxes – but legislation moved by a popular revolt that calls for restriction of movement. Not next year, not 2025, or anytime soon but happening sometime in the near future if climate change inexorably threatens the planet’s well being.
Extinction Rebellion is a slow train coming round the bend with a lot of angry people waiving more than banners and hurling abuse – next time they are coming with legal writs and court orders to seize and detain. The industry’s social licence to operate is in jeopardy.The freedom to roam the seas will be revoked.
And that is the end of the industry. My industry, your industry, our industry. Superyacht extinction.