April 24 2019
Groningen, The Netherlands. This morning, dozens of Extinction Rebellion (XR) Rebels committed an act of civil disobedience at the GasTerra Headquarters in the Centre of Groningen, Netherlands. The entrance is being blocked and a few of them have chained themselves to the building. We demand that Shell and ExxonMobil, the firms behind the company, take adequate action to counter the climate crisis. De sixth mass-extinction of life on Earth has begun. Only by drawing down carbon emissions year-by-year to NET 0 in 2025 can the ecological crises be averted. Extinction Rebellion is a non-violent movement. We want the government to protect its citizens and install a citizens-chamber.
We are you. We are normal people, from all four corners of the country, of all ages, and with different life-stories. We worry about the future of our Earth, about the future of our children and our co-existence as human beings with all life on Earth.
‘I would have never thought that I would be in contact with the police, let alone be arrested. But now that I know that civil disobedience – which has brought us weekends, paid vacation and cycling paths – really remains as the only option to bring about meaningful social change, I have no choice.’ says Alix, spokesperson, ‘We’re out of time. After 30 years of lobbying, politicians are still doing the opposite of what this planet needs.”.
The current course of Shell and ExxonMobil brings us straight towards a climate catastrophe. The Dutch state owns 50% of GasTerra’s shares and shares in the responsibility. Something needs to happen, now, or it will be too late.
The people of Groningen have suffered the consequences of the extraction of gas for years. People no longer feel safe in their houses. They have to wait years for compensation while reinforcement works are being delayed. ‘Utterly unconvincing’, says spokesperson Egbert Born, ‘since the first major earthquake in 2012, Shell has undergone a complete metamorphosis. They make billions in revenue and recently bought a gas-winning company for 65 billion Euro. When you’re able to make such far-reaching structural changes in your company and still make 23 billion in profits, then it is inconceivable the company actually did not do everything in its power to swiftly and properly help the inhabitants of Groningen.’ The government needs to translate this realization into action.
Our government is doing nothing to tackle the ecological crises. ‘We would prefer not to protest, but unfortunately we’ve run out of options. Shell and ExxonMobil are two of the biggest emitters of carbon dioxide on this planet, and they’ve known the consequences of their actions for decades.’, says spokesperson Alix, ‘Nevertheless, they are continuing to invest billions of euros in oil and gas as well as in lobbying against climate policies, while investing far too little in sustainable solutions.’. For public relations purposes the create flimsy greenwashing projects such as the recent announcement it was planting forests. That is just about replacing trees already perishing. Companies such as Shell and ExxonMobil are solely focused on generating profits. People and the Living World are expendable.
The consequences of climate breakdown are being felt increasingly all around the world. Without drastic measures, the IPCC predicts we will see an even bigger increase in extreme weather events such as droughts, heatwaves, and floods. If we follow this path the collapse of our civilization is probable. Tens of millions of people will die. The biggest polluters – such as Shell and ExxonMobil – must bear the biggest share of the costs.’ Also, the Dutch state plays a role in this: “under their supervision, the fossil fuel industry has been going on in impunity.’.
The civil disobedience movement, originally from the UK, made itself heard in many countries around the world. In the United Kingdom, citizens have been blocking crucial areas in the capital for a week. In the Netherlands, a Declaration of Rebellion was read out in front of the government in The Hague on Monday. On Tuesday, the ICC was occupied to demand that Ecocide be made punishable by law. On Friday, the movement visited Shell HQ and symbolically covered their stairs with the ‘blood of our children’ and on Saturday, a funeral procession moved through Rotterdam. During the actions of Extinction Rebellion Netherlands, 50 rebels were arrested. In London, this number has spiked to more than 1000 people who were protesting to protect the living world and prevent climate breakdown.