The Dutch Parliament orders the government to reduce subsidies for fossil energy consumption.
what is he talking about? There is currently a jubilant mood in the Netherlands towards the Extinction Rebellion climate movement. For a month, environmental activists repeatedly blocked the highway in The Hague. Now the Dutch Parliament has called on the government to reduce subsidies and tax breaks for oil and gas. Concrete proposals to dismantle the regulations should be made by the Christmas holidays. In response, Extinction Rebellion announced that it would end the blockade.
Why this political decision? According to polls, 70% of all Dutch support the demand to reduce fossil fuel consumption in favor of climate-neutral forms of energy. Therefore, there is support among the population for the demands of the climate movement. In addition, many people are surprised by the scale of subsidies for fossil fuels: according to the government, companies receive between about 40 and 46 billion euros annually for the use of fossil fuels – mainly tax benefits and tax breaks.
From climate to civil rights protests
“At the beginning of the protests last year there were only a few dozen people,” says independent journalist Thomas Vervos, who lives in the Netherlands. Most of them were young men who were standing next to the highway in The Hague. When the so-called ringleaders were arrested on behalf of the mayor at the end of the year, the character of the protest changed. Since then it has also been about civil rights. In addition, the protest is now mostly taking place on the road itself, so the road has been closed. There have also been frequent solidarity demonstrations, Farfus said. “Actresses, lawyers and politicians participated, and grandparents came with their grandchildren.” In short: the pressure on politics became greater and greater, and the consequences were well known.
What do climate activists say? A spokesman for the Extinction Rebellion movement said that the Dutch parliament’s vote is a clear signal. “Civil disobedience works!” And: “We will closely monitor the implementation of the decision.” Police dispersed highway blockades almost daily using water cannons. In total, more than 9,000 people were temporarily detained.
We will closely monitor the implementation of the parliamentary decision.
what is happening now? It is still unclear when the financial benefits of using fossil fuels will be eliminated. The Dutch Climate Ministry stated that the regulations could not be dismantled quickly. In some cases, European decisions are necessary. Opposition comes from the affected sectors: they point to the higher cost of jobs as a result and to the fact that many jobs in mining, steelmaking or agriculture had already been lost earlier due to high wages in the Netherlands.
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