Chris­tine’s Blog: More activists in politics to save the planet

22 December 2022

"World improvers, unite!", I wrote in my previous blog and that's exactly what I saw last week in Brussels during the international conference of the Animal Politics Foundation, our Party for the Animals’ international foundation. Activists, green politicians, and planet and animal protectionists from 25 countries came together to attend workshops and exchange ideas, with the aim of stopping the destruction of nature, animals and our environment as soon as possible. They did so very symbolically on the International Day of Animal Rights and Human Rights. It was inspiring and hopeful!

Christine Teunissen, Donald Pols (director Milieudefensie) and Ariane Giraneza (Belgian environmentalist) during the international conference of the Animal Politics Foundation.

These are the people we desperately need in politics. Many traditional politicians pretend to take the necessary action, but continue to opt for business as usual, at most in a slightly different shape. At the recent climate summit in Egypt, for example, some great things were said, but no new agreements made to limit dangerous greenhouse gas emissions. Previous agreements are not complied with. Most politicians don't have the guts to do what it takes to keep our planet livable.

So that’s why we need more activists in politics. People who do not work for the short-term economic interests of people in the global north, but who work on new, planet-wide politics that focus on compassion and a healthy approach to our environment. People who show how positive change can be achieved by sticking to your ideals. By doing what is necessary, instead of what is politically 'acceptable'. To turn the tide, we must choose a fundamentally different way of thinking and acting: in harmony with nature, instead of against nature. Something that indigenous peoples in different parts of the world have known for a long time.

Our global "Animal Politics Movement" is bringing that message into the political arena. Our job is to wake the other politicians up and push them to take real action to protect animals, human rights, and our planet. In Brussels we also celebrated the tenth anniversary of this beautiful movement, with a short video, which you can watch below.

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Ten years of Animal Politics Foundation.

Fighting the nature and climate crises in conjunction
Last month the climate conference took place in Egypt. And this month the fifteenth Biodiversity Conference (COP15) in Canada is also underway: a summit of the United Nations, with the aim to combat the biodiversity crisis we face. Nature and biodiversity are under serious pressure. The rate at which animals and plants are becoming extinct has not been this high in ten million years. These are shocking figures, but they receive far too little attention. Scientists state that we cannot separate the climate and biodiversity crises. Climate change has a negative impact on biodiversity, and biodiversity degradation exacerbates the climate crisis. More greenery protects us from extreme weather and provides more safety. We must therefore find solutions that contribute to combating both crises.

As I write this, the UN Biodiversity Summit is ongoing, so we do not yet know the exact results. But those results are of great importance. If solid agreements are made to protect nature and tackle nature destruction, it is not too late to turn the tide.

One of the biggest causes of the destruction of nature is the way we have organized our food system: most fertile land is used for livestock farming (including animal feed), while plant foods such as pulses and vegetables can feed more people using much less land. By switching to more plant-based food, we can return a lot of land to nature. Scientists from Oxford, among others, have often concluded this. Organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) also point out that about 60% of biodiversity loss is due to livestock farming.

If politicians were to help entrepreneurs and citizens with the transition from animal proteins to vegetable proteins, we would not only put an end to animal suffering, but also drastically reduce methane and CO2 emissions and the water use in agriculture. In addition, we can stop deforestation in crucial places such as the Amazon and the Cerrado, where a piece of nature the size of three football pitches disappears every minute because of the increasing production of animal feed. If we focus on organic arable farming, we can solve many environmental problems in one fell swoop. An organic, plant-based future is a future with clean water, clean air, better health for humans and animals and a life that is much more in balance with nature.

For me personally, 2023 will be the year that I become a 'normal' member of parliament again and Esther Ouwehand takes her place as party leader. In 2023, I will provide a platform for scientists and activists inside and outside parliament. I'm really looking forward to that. The twenties of the 21st century are the defining decade for the future of the planet. If all climate activists, nature lovers, animal rights activists, environmentalists and everyone who is committed to a healthy future for humans and animals, continue to fight in a positive way, we can all make a difference. I'm truly convinced of that.

Fighting to fundamentally protect nature, fighting for a plant-based future and fighting to bring the economy within the carrying capacity of the earth requires political courage and action. And therefore, more activists in politics. Join us!

I wish you all healthy December weeks filled with love and a happy 2023. See you in January.

Christine Teunissen
Temporary leader of the Dutch Party for the Animals