During the Climate March in Amsterdam on 10 March, Groningen will be making its voice heard: as many as 1,000 people from the province are planning to head to the Randstad, and the NS has already agreed to provide extra train carriages to accommodate them. Groups from across the north will be heading south to take part in the event.
The official Facebook page for the event describes the march as the largest climate strike in The Netherlands yet. If the 15,000 people who say they are going ultimately show up, that would exceed the turnout of the 7 February gathering of secondary school students who attend the Youth for Climate event.
|Climate March on 10 March
“We’ve waited long enough. The climate won’t wait for us”, the event description reads. The main objectives of the march are to demand fair distribution of the costs and benefits of the climate transition, getting big polluters “to pay their fair share”, ensuring more affordable green energy and good green jobs.
The march is an initiative of Dutch social and environmental organisations, namely Environmental Defense, The Dutch Labour Movement, Greenpeace, Oxfam Novib, De Goede Zaak and de Woonbond. A number of Dutch church groups will also be taking part in the Sunday march, which begins at 1 p.m. at the Dam and traces a 2.5 kilomter route through the city to the Museumplein. Prior to the march, Dutch musicians Claudia de Breij and Typhoon will perform, and Radboud University associate professor Heleen de Coninck will give a mini lecture about climate change.
Chris Ashford, who is originally from the United Kingdom, is part of Fossielvrij Groningen and answered a couple of questions about his involvement in between meetings with groups planning to attend the march. Around 20 different political, social and environmental groups from the city and province are rallying people to go to the march, and Ashford says that this whole week is all about the march. “We’re expecting to have a bloc of around 1,000 people in total from Groningen”, he says.
Trains and buses
As of Tuesday, NS had confirmed that they would be providing additional rail carriages to ensure enough space for the hundreds of people from the north travelling to attend the march. Ashford says that beyond the extra train cars, at least four buses would be transporting people from the province to and from Amsterdam.
Ashford became involved in local activism during the torch protest march in the city of Groningen in early 2018. The protest was in response to the 3.4 magnitude earthquake in Zeerijp, which was induced by natural gas extraction in the province. The ongoing earthquakes and the uphill battle residents face when getting their damaged home repaired are a one-two punch of climate issues and social injustice issues, Ashford says.
The social injustices in Groningen are huge. It’s bigger than the global issues.
“The things people have to go through to get compensation, the uncertainty, the stress, mental health issues – people are being asked to fight the system for their rights and wait for years, living in caravans outside their homes. They can’t sleep at night due to feeling unsafe”, Ashford says. “It’s a fossil fuel extraction site, but the social injustices in Groningen are huge. It’s bigger than the global issues. If you can’t solve the problems on your own doorstep, then what hope can you have to solve them on a bigger scale?”
International students getting involved
International students from Groningen will also be out in force. A group of around 20 students met on Monday to brainstorm about their contribution to the march. Buse Ekmekçioğlu, who is from Turkey and is studying Environmental Psychology at the University of Groningen, says that the group spent Monday evening coming up with texts for banners and prepared pitches for secondary and university students to encourage them to join them in Amsterdam.
Ekmekçioğlu feels that the Dutch government is not doing enough to prevent further climate change. “They will not be reducing enough CO2 before 2030 and they don’t make big polluters pay. When I compare it with Turkish government, it’s the same. Turkey is also not making effort to mitigate climate change.”
The issue is not taken seriously enough by important authorities
Pantea Razavi, who is from Germany and is studying environmental psychology at the RUG, strongly agrees that the Dutch government needs to do much better when it comes to climate. “The issue is not taken seriously enough by important authorities”, Razavi writes via Facebook. “It is acknowledged that climate change is an important issue, that it is human made, and that actions are needed. However, these actions are neither prioritised enough, nor are they drastic enough.”
Another German student, Vladimir Bojarskich, has been living in Groningen for four years and says that it seems like both Dutch and German citizens see how big of a threat climate change is to the world, but he points out that both countries are off track in terms of staying below a 1.5 degrees Celsius temperature increase.
“As such, I think collective actions, such as the climate march in Amsterdam, are very important in showing that the public will accept bolder policies”, he writes. “I think, positive responses, for example by governmental representatives, to such collective actions can give people hope that it matters to believe in a participatory democracy.”
The Groningen bloc
Ashford says that Groningen is the only region of the Netherlands that will have its own large, separate bloc within the march. “We need to solve the problems in Groningen before we try to tackle the whole world, and to highlight what the problems are in Groningen. We want people from the city and province to join us, and show that Groningen is a force in itself, and not just another group protesting for the climate.”
|Other Climate March groups in the north
Across Groningen, Drenthe and Friesland, a number of groups will be travelling to Amsterdam together on Sunday. In Friesland, buses will be departing from Leeuwarden, as will a group on behalf of the World Heritage Site Wadden Sea, which will be travelling by train. A group will also be travelling by train from IJlst. A group of around 50 people has said they are planning to travel together from Assen on Sunday morning. In the province of Groningen, groups from Pekela and Loppersum will be heading south for the march as well.