Earth Strike kick-off protest in Amsterdam 2019. Credit: Accon/Wikimedia CC Zero

Water Cannons Target 10,000 Climate Protesters Blocking Highway in Netherlands

“While the world is going up in flames, the government continues to add fuel to the fire by propping up the biggest source of the climate crisis, fossil fuels, with billions in subsidies.”

Climate campaigners calling for an end to fossil fuel subsidies were fired upon with water cannons and physically abused Saturday near The Hague in the Netherlands as the global movement demanding an end to the dominance of the coal, oil, and gas industry continues to call on world leaders to act.

Members of Extinction Rebellion spearheaded the direct action on the A12 Utrechtsebaan highway near the center of the Dutch government. With an estimated 10,000 participants overall, the jovial protesters sat down in the road, bringing traffic to a standstill as they chanted, “The seas are rising and so are we!” even as police vehicles sprayed them with water at high velocity.

The Associated Press reported that the protesters vowed to stay until the Netherlands ends public subsidies for the fossil fuel industry or, if removed by police, to return each day until the financial support is suspended.

“This is much larger than any one of us,” one participant, Yolanda de Jager, told the AP. “This concerns the whole world.”

Dutch police carted some protesters off in carts while others were beaten with batons or dragged off the roadway:

Earlier this week, a new report detailed how the Dutch government spends nearly $38 billion in taxpayer funds each year to support fossil fuels. The authors of the peer-reviewed report—a joint research effort by SOMO, Oil Change International, and Milieudefensie—argued that such subsidies should be eliminated by 2025 in order to help the nation meet its emission reductions goals and also help fund the necessary transition to renewable energy.

“Phasing out fossil subsidies kills two birds with one stone: it reduces fossil fuel emissions and raises additional revenue needed to accelerate a social and equitable transition,” said Audrey Gaughran, director of SOMO, also known as the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations.

OCI director Elizabeth Bast said, “The Netherlands has taken the international stage to promise an end to fossil fuel subsidies multiple times already, but it is failing to live up to its promise.”

“While the world is going up in flames, the government continues to add fuel to the fire by propping up the biggest source of the climate crisis, fossil fuels, with billions in subsidies,” she added. “With an urgent and fair phase-out plan the Netherlands can deliver on longstanding promises and take the lead within the EU and internationally to ensure other countries follow through.”


Jon Queally is managing editor of Common Dreams. Common Dreams’ work is licensed for reuse under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

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On Sept 19, 2023 ahead of the Climate Ambition Summit in New York City, climate activists gathered for a rally and civil disobedience outside Bank of America Tower in Midtown Manhattan as part of the March to End Fossil Fuels wave of actions resulting in multiple arrests. Activists demand Bank of America to “Defund Climate Chaos and Defend Human Rights” Photo: Erik McGregor (CC BY-NC 2.0 Deed)

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