Climate March Crossing the Heart of Amsterdam
On Sunday, March 10, people from all over the Netherlands gathered in Amsterdam for the Climate March, a nonviolent protest demanding a radically new climate policy. Around 40,000 participants marched across the heart of Amsterdam for 2.5 kilometers, starting from Dam Square to the Museumplein.
By SOOHYUN BAE
On Sunday, March 10, people from all over the Netherlands gathered in Amsterdam for the Climate March, a nonviolent protest demanding a radically new climate policy. Around 40,000 participants marched across the heart of Amsterdam for 2.5 kilometers, starting from Dam Square to the Museumplein. From 1 pm to 4 pm, the protesters conquered the tram rails through the city center, and were not bothered by being soaked in the heavy rainfall. They held their pickets high, sang and danced to the chant: “What do we want? Climate justice! When do we want it? Now!”
The march was organized by Milieudefensie – a Dutch environmental organization founded in 1971 – along with FNV, Greenpeace, DeGoedeZaak, Woonbond, and Oxfam Novib. Over 50 social organizations and political parties participated in the march, marching for a fair distribution of burdens, the ‘polluter pays’ principle, a future in which everyone lives permanently and warmly, and for a future with real, green jobs.
“The policy that we think the government should implement right now is that the biggest polluters have to pay. They still receive grants, and we think that they should have to pay their fair share,” said Sibel Kurt, a 25 year old chairman of the board of Young Friends of the Earth NL (JMA). As a youth organization of Milieudefensie, JMA was the biggest section of the march, leading the crowd at the front. “We wanted to show that young people also want to tackle the problem. The politics and negotiations are going slow, and we are not reaching our goals, so we thought that we need a transition as soon as possible,” commented Kurt.
Commenting on the success of the climate march in drawing a massive amount of participants, she added: “I think that a lot of people are starting to realize that even though they are making steps, like changing the way they eat, trying to fly less… [the efforts people make] don’t work unless the system changes. People are starting to realize that the industry has to get more involved and pay more, and do their fair share, because otherwise the consumers do not have the power yet to make a really big [improvement].”
Similarly, Sara, a 23-year-old university student from Utrecht, joined the protest hoping that the march would find a way to get the bigger companies and industries to cooperate and try to fix the environmental problems caused by the humans. “I’m just hoping that people take the issue more seriously, since there are so many people who still deny it, believing that this is some sort of theory, whereas it’s a fact. So I’m just hoping that people see what it really is.”
The climate march was initially heated up with a short stage program at the Dam Square, including speeches and performances from various artists, television personalities, and the young initiators of high school strikes raising attention for climate change. The main path of the march, which included the majority of the city center’s highlights, was determined after a number of conversations with the municipality and the police to find a safe and good route.
At the end of the climate march, another participant, Dea Rijper, shared her motivation to join the protest. “Twenty years ago, or perhaps thirty years ago, I heard the story that flying should be more expensive. But it is getting more inexpensive, and I am also flying and I felt strange.” Rijper, a 60-year-old mother who works in the museums, revealed that she attended the march on behalf of her son and daughter, who also support its goals but were not able to come. “We have to diminish [using] our luxuries. We are used to more and more luxuries, and it’s not usually easy to step back.”
The aforementioned JMA is currently processing a lawsuit against Shell Oil Company, the US subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell, and is looking forward to meeting citizens who are willing to become fellow prosecutors of this lawsuit in the future. This comes as their fight for a more sustainable future looks to be long from over.