“Power to the People”

Dutch citizens join in for global climate strike week

By Henrike Freytag | October 11, 2019

Cover photo by Henrike Freytag

On September 20, 2019, people from 150 countries came together to protest against the climate crisis, marking the start of the ‘Global Week for Future’. The protests were reverberations of the weekly demonstrations of Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old activist who protested in front of the Swedish parliament (in Stockholm) every friday. On September 20, 2019, her local protests became a global movement. 

 

Four million people took to the streets all around the world, making this protest the largest international climate strike ever recorded. The protests were organised by several organisations that were fighting the climate crisis, coordinated by 350.org. Chris Haan, from Fridays for Future NL (FFF), and Philip Blok, from Code Rood, were very surprised with the turnout in Amsterdam. Expecting 400-500 participants, they were delighted when an estimated 5000 people took to the streets. They both agree that the climate movement is growing rapidly and that every individual counts. “For example Deventer: only seven people demonstrated there. I think that’s as important as here in Amsterdam”, Chris Haan said, about individual action. 

 

The protest on September 20 was just the beginning of week of climate actions. For instance, it also marked the start of an Eight Day Climate March, undertaken by five Dutch girls, aged between 14-18. As a demonstration of civil power, Dana (17), Ianthe (16), Jesse (14), Linda (18) and Lola (15) started a 120 km hike from Wageningen to The Hague. On their way, they passed several cities and attended events, including opening the service of a church in Wijk Bij Duurstede and joining a climate breakfast in Utrecht.

The climate march fills the streets of The Hague with protesters bearing signs on September 20, 2019. Henrike Freytag / The Amsterdammer

Their destination was The Hague on September 27. The five activists opened the climate strike with a speech. To stress the need for sustainable climate politics and their disappointment with the current government, they said, “How dare Mark Rutte and the other ministers call themselves our leaders when they only have nice talk, but do not take action? Real leaders should protect their citizens.” 

 

With these words, the second global protest against the climate crisis began on September 27, 2019. According to the organisers, over 35,000 people from all over The Netherlands gathered in The Hague to march against the climate crisis. Their goal was to urge the Dutch government to implement a new, ambitious green deal. Several companies and organisations also joined in, closing their businesses for the cause. 

 

The participants’ opinions varied, some being content with the sense of community, to others thinking that measures more effective than singing and walking in the streets were necessary.

After the protest, the organisers from FFF, Fossielvrij NL, Teachers for Climate and Earth Strike Netherland announced that though the global climate strike may be over, more civilian action is expected until the politicians take responsibility and act against the climate crisis.

 

 

 

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