Esther's Blog: The times are changing

21 December 2021

The end of 2021 in sight. Unfortunately, we are still amid several crises: a climate crisis, an environmental crisis, and a health crisis. Our governments continue to invest public money in big polluters and companies that see animals as products only and ignore human rights. The Dutch government is pushing for irresponsible global warming, at the expense of younger and vulnerable groups at home and abroad. One of the main causes of climate change and the destruction of nature is the livestock industry, but it continues to be heavily subsidised.

So, we have still plenty to fight for together in 2022. Fortunately, more and more citizens are demanding that their politicians protect the welfare of people, animals, and our planet. The Party for the Animals will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with them in the new year.

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People speak out during the climate conference in Glasgow for a greater protection of our planet.

Getting on with it in Europe
Thanks to the Party for the Animals, steps have been taken this month in the European Union (EU) to better protect animals. A year and a half ago, the EU launched an official investigation into animal transport abuses. The conclusions were presented this month and, unfortunately, they are as serious as we feared: the already weak European rules are not being complied with, animals suffer severely during transports and the EU is doing too little to protect them.

The committee of inquiry has now made recommendations to improve animal welfare. Although some of the recommendations are good, overall, they are still insufficient to really protect animals. Some members of the committee choose export company profits over the lives of vulnerable animals.

Our team in the EU will do everything in its power to ensure that the European Parliament votes for truly great animal protection in January!

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In a beautiful interview this summer, acclaimed photojournalist Jo-Anne McArthur spoke about the hidden suffering during, among other things, animal transports.

Opposition to Europe's largest data centre and gas drilling in world heritage site Waddenzee
The Dutch government has hatched a terrible plan to drill for gas in one of the most vulnerable nature reserves in the Netherlands – the UNESCO World Heritage site the Waddenzee. This is unacceptable in itself, but also contrary to the law, which expressly forbids to drill for gas there.

In addition, the largest data centre in Europe is in danger of being built near the small town of Zeewolde – again, thanks to this government. Facebook is planning to build a massive data centre on fertile agricultural land that consumes more power than the entire city of Amsterdam. Even though we should use less energy and need agricultural land to grow plant-based food or turn into nature. The Party for the Animals will do everything to put a halt to these two terrible plans!

Growing awareness

Esther in her office.

Fortunately, I can end this year with much good news as well. Last month, we achieved some important animal welfare breakthroughs. Thanks to a proposal by the Party for the Animals, parliament enforced the rule that chickens must have permanent access to drinking water. It remains mind-boggling that many politicians did not grant this basic need before. But now, even one of the most animal-unfriendly parties supported the proposal. The times are changing, and we will keep fighting!

The Dutch government must also work to restrict the import of overbred pets. Fortunately, it is forbidden to breed animals with sickening external characteristics in the Netherlands, like dogs with such flat noses that they can no longer breathe properly. But one can still import and sell them. This must obviously also come to an end.

A majority of the Dutch House of Representatives also agreed with the Party for the Animals that the live boiling of crabs and lobsters must be banned. These animals can feel pain. Boiling them alive is one of the cruellest things one can do.

And thanks to our proposal, there will finally be a lifetime ban on keeping animals for people who have been convicted of animal cruelty or neglect and who are at fault again. No new animals for abusers!

Last week, Ezra Klein, columnist for The New York Times, wrote: "How we treat farm animals today will be seen, I believe, as a defining moral failure of our age."

We believe that as well. Fortunately, there is a growing awareness that humans must treat animals differently. More and more people are asking themselves why we hug one animal and cut another up.

Let’s strive for a world in which we treat each other and the animals with whom we share this beautiful Earth, with compassion.

A very happy New Year and see you in 2022!

Esther Ouwehand
Leader of the Dutch Party for the Animals