News / 14 March 2021

Vote for the Climate!

 A number of our colleagues at Both ENDS made a lot of noise at various locations around the country today, as part of the national Klimaatalarm (Climate Alarm) campaign. Annelieke Douma gave a short speech in Haarlem on the major role played by the Netherlands in climate change and environmental degradation beyond our borders. She made a number of suggestions that would immediately make Dutch foreign policy a lot more climate-friendly. Below is the text of her speech.

"Good afternoon, it's wonderful to see you all here today. And to hear you making your voices heard, here in Haarlem and in so many other places in the Netherlands.

We're not only doing this here in the Netherlands; all around the world people are taking to the streets to protest about the causes of climate change, like the fossil industry and large-scale intensive agriculture. Besides climate change, these industries also often cause enormous damage to the land, the forests and the water on which millions of people directly depend for their livelihoods. That makes them even more vulnerable to the effects of climate change than they were already. And that is why we defend their rights and help them to get their voices heard, loud and clear.

At environmental and human rights organisation Both ENDS, I work directly with very many of these brave women and men in Africa, Asia and Latin America. For them, climate change has for a long time not been something that will happen in the future, but an immediate threat in their daily lives. We have all seen the images of floods in Bangladesh, forest fires in the Amazon and the extreme cold in Texas. But there is so much more that does not make the front pages. From sustained drought in parts of Africa to large strips of coast in Asia that have been inundated due to rising sea levels and failed harvests due to extreme rainfall. The next two speakers will tell you more about that.

So today, and after today, let's make our voices heard, and keep doing so until something really changes. Not only for our future, but for their daily struggle. And not only from solidarity, but also because the Netherlands directly contributes to the reality they are having to deal with. Let me give you three examples:

Firstly, through a whole range of grants to Dutch companies, the Netherlands provides no less than 2.9 billion euros in support to the fossil sector in other countries. This is public money, taxpayers' money. That, of course, has to stop immediately.

Secondly, something you might not think about immediately: your pension. Pension funds are major investors. The Dutch pension fund for the public sector, the ABP, is one of the largest pension funds in the world and is responsible for the pensions of one in six people in the Netherlands. The ABP, too, invests 15 to 16 billion euros a year in the international fossil industry, for example in coal-fired power stations and oil and gas companies. They should withdraw their investments in these concerns as soon as possible, something that many environmental organisations like FossielVrij NL Both ENDS are working hard to achieve.

Thirdly, the Netherlands is the world's second largest exporter of agricultural products. But we have not produced all those products here in the Netherlands itself for many years. We import almost 90% of them first from countries where enormous tracts of the natural environment have been sacrificed to produce them, and then we export them further. Monoculture delivers cheap products but depletes the earth, destroys biodiversity, and competes with local small-scale farmers, forcing them out of the market. In this way, we keep a harmful and climate-unfriendly agricultural model in place. Instead of doing that, let us support genuinely sustainable agriculture. There are countless good initiatives and examples of how to achieve that.

So vote for the climate, the restoration of the natural environment and biodiversity, and for a fair and sustainable trade system. For our beautiful planet. And for all people, everywhere in the world.

Thank you all."

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