Whenever I see pictures of the people in the Dutch province of Groningen whose houses are collapsing because of gas extraction and who, even if they wanted to move somewhere else, would never be able to sell them, I can't help but think of all the people worldwide who have been experiencing the same problems, sometimes for decades. Every time I see the anger and powerlessness of the people of Groningen, the comparison to the many people we have been working with for many years in many parts of the world comes to my mind.
Yesterday, the French President Macron, the President of the World Bank Group, Jim Yong Kim, and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, met with international leaders and committed citizens from around the world in Paris. According to the organisers, the aim of this gathering was to 'address the ecological emergency for our planet' as 'two years to the day after the historic Paris Agreement, it is time for concrete action.'
Although outgoing economics minister Henk Kamp stated in May of this year that fossil fuels are not subsidised in the Netherlands, a report out today shows that this is clearly not the case. The report. ‘Phase-Out 2020: Monitoring Europe’s fossil fuel subsidies’, by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and Climate Action Network Europe (CAN-Europe), says that the Netherlands is supporting the fossil sector at home and abroad with more than 7.6 billion euros a year (1). The Netherlands made international agreements as long ago as 2009 (2) to ban subsidies for fossil fuels. Environment NGO Milieudefensie and Both ENDS – both members of CAN-Europe – call attention to these findings because they find it unacceptable that the government perpetuates our dependence on fossil fuels in this way.
The Dutch pension fund, ABP, invested about two billion euros more in the fossil energy industry at the end of 2016 than the year before. This is announced by the report "Dirty & Dangerous: the fossil fuel investments of Dutch pension fund ABP," published today by Both ENDS, German urgewald and Fossielvrij NL. The report criticizes these investments because of the impact on the climate and the catastrophic consequences for the people in the areas where coal, oil and gas are being produced.
We are very proud that our director Daniëlle Hirsch has been included again in the ‘Sustainable 100’ (an annual ranking list published by Dutch newspaper Trouw), and has gone up more than 40 spots compared to last year! Danielle was included in the list because of the many things she does with her organisation as a whole, but she got the higher ranking for the way she combines her criticism of the destructive role of the Netherlands as a trading nation and large cause of CO2 emissions in the world (often supported by the Dutch government), with a constructive attitude when it comes to finding alternatives and solutions.
This short animation functions as a primer to the policy paper written by Both ENDS, and makes the case for an investment policy that aims for an energy independent Netherlands, a country that goes about its daily affairs in a social and environmentally sound way.