Christine’s Blog: World-improvers, unite!
You are, of course, used to reading the monthly blog by Esther Ouwehand, political leader of the Dutch Party for the Animals. Unfortunately, Esther has been suffering from some health problems due to constant overwork, and has temporarily stepped down as MP. Dutch law stipulates that MPs can be replaced for a fixed period of four months due to illness, which is what Esther is doing now. She wishes to remind us all how important it is that everyone who is actively engaged in combating the exploitation of our planet refrains from doing the same thing to themselves. Taking enough time out to recuperate after periods of stress is extremely important if we wish to keep fighting for a habitable planet and for animal welfare, and to guarantee the continued existence of current and future generations. Esther will be resuming her duties as the political leader of our party – and the writer of these blogs – at the end of January.
My name is Christine Teunissen, MP for the Party for the Animals and I will be taking over Esther’s position as the parliamentary group chairman of our party for the time being. That means I will also be writing the blogs that you have become used to reading each month. I look forward to being able to connect with all you protectors of our planet from all over the world in this way!
It goes without saying that this international connection is incredibly important for solving the major crises of our time: the climate, nature and water crises. As a member of Parliament since spring 2021, I have been focusing primarily on the international dimension of our work: the climate crisis, devastating free trade agreements, and the unfortunately negative impact of the Netherlands on nature all over the world. In a nutshell: I have been working to accelerate positive change globally.
During a protest march last month, I also expressed our solidarity with all the Iranian women and girls fighting for their freedom. The Netherlands must not avert its eyes from this violence, and should condemn it with the greatest severity. We should also move swiftly towards imposing tougher sanctions on Iran, even if this is opposed to our own economic and trade interests. Human rights over money!
The same applies for the FIFA World Cup (WC) in Qatar, which will be starting this month. It is a disgrace that this football competition is taking place there at all, considering the conditions in which vulnerable migrants have to work and live in this country, and the extremely difficult position of other minorities in Qatar. Thousands of migrant workers hired for the construction of the football stadiums lost their lives due to the harrowing working conditions. And what is the Dutch government doing? They will be joining in the festivities with the Qatari regime, and sending an official government delegation to the World Cup. King Willem Alexander may even be travelling along with them. Not only is this immoral; it is diametrically opposed to the wishes of the majority of the Dutch Parliament!
Battling for the climate
I, however, will not be focusing my attention on the World Cup for the next few weeks, but on the 27th climate conference, which will be held in Egypt this time. Last year, I was one of the official representatives of the Dutch Parliament at the COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow. Here, I also campaigned on the streets together with thousands of amazing people. Being able to see so many people who are all working for a more beautiful world gave me a lot of energy. The purpose of our campaign was to raise awareness for the negative impact of the livestock industry on biodiversity and our climate, and many people signed our international #FoodRevolution Petition. You can still sign this. Despite the fact that the scientific community adamantly believes that we can only keep the Earth habitable by cutting back on the production and consumption of animal products, this is consistently ignored by politicians.
Thankfully, our concerted efforts have already yielded consistent improvements to this. A prime example of this is Food@COP, a network of young people from all over the world whose goal is to ensure that the products provided by catering companies working at climate conferences are plant-based to the greatest possible extent. It is only logical, after all, that food served at a climate conference is as climate-friendly as possible!
Last month, I took part in a debate in the Dutch Parliament on our country’s contribution to the international climate conference in Egypt. We touched on four key points:
- It is of paramount importance that we tighten our climate targets. Our current targets are completely inadequate if we want to prevent climate change and its ensuing dangers. Not only that, they are insufficient to protect people who are already suffering the effects of climate change and are therefore at a great risk. To do so, the Netherlands must already be climate neutral in 2030.
- Poorer countries hardly contribute to the climate crisis but are already experiencing the consequences. A prime example of this is the flooding in Pakistan. Wealthy countries should do much more to help these countries in our battle against the climate crisis.
- The enormous funding provided by the government to fossil sectors such as aviation and shipping must come to an end. The Dutch government alone awards 17.5 billion euros each in fossil subsidies. That is throwing extremely expensive oil on the fire of the climate crisis!
- And, of course, the elephant in the room: we must put a stop to industrial livestock production. Solving the climate crisis requires a radical change in our food system. I also asked the Dutch Minister for Climate to pay more attention to raising awareness about this and encouraging people to opt for plant-based products rather than animal-based ones, with successful results.
We keep pushing to achieve the above goals as soon as possible. In December, I will discuss this further in Brussels with protectors of our planet from all over the world at the international conference of the Animal Politics Foundation (the international foundation for the Party for the Animals). Together, we will be seeking ways to accelerate positive change. More information on this will follow, so keep an eye on all “Party for the Animals” social media posts!
Cheers, and until next month.
Parliamentary Group Chairman of the Dutch Party for the Animals