Worldlog Week 43 – 2011

28 October 2011

More vegetarian dishes in parliamentary restaurants! That is what Minister Donner from Internal Affairs promised us this week after we asked him parliamentary questions. During the questions I actually suggested introducing a regular vegetarian day to parliamentary canteens. However, a meatless day unfortunately left Donner cold, although a more varied vegetarian menu is definitely progress. According to the cabinets point of view, meat is the most environmentally damaging part of the menu. The government is hoping to lead by example and encourage more people to opt more often for an animal-friendly meal.

We heard from Jasmijn de Boo, Director of the Vegan Society in England that this Tuesday is 'World Vegan Day' in Westminster. This is a first for England, where a specifically vegan event is organised by a vegan Labour MP with vegan cupcakes! Plus over the course of the week, all four Westminster restaurants will feature a vegan dish on their menus. It's great to hear that the English are also promoting a plant-based diet at the parliamentary level.

Saturday 22 October saw the Lower House return from the Autumn holidays to debate the Euro crisis. Last week I briefly touched on our point of view concerning support for Greece. During the debate I indicated that an end should be brought to irresponsibly mortgaging our futures. Combating this financial crisis must be viewed in relation to other crises, such as the world food crisis, the drinking water crisis, the energy crisis, the biodiversity crisis, the climate crisis and the animal disease crisis. We shouldn't focus on recovering the old situation, but we should be working towards new, sustainable goals. I have also tabled a motion for a referendum about the European Stability Mechanism (ESM). Should the ESM go ahead, this will have far-reaching consequences for our sovereign position within the European Union.

According to the concept that national parliaments are considering, the ESM will be able to ask for unlimited contributions from the member states and shall enjoy legal immunity. The Euro was introduced without consulting the citizens, the European constitution was pushed on the Dutch people against their will, it cannot and should not stand that far-reaching sovereign transference happens without first consulting the people.

Shale gas was a hot topic this week. The Party for the Animals believes that drilling for shale gas should be prohibited everywhere in the Netherlands. My colleague Esther Ouwehand is working on a motion to set this ban in place. The reason we are so against drilling for shale gas is that the risks to public health and safety are unacceptable and it will sacrifice nature for financial gain. Clinging to fossil fuels will also only cause further delay to switching to sustainable energy.

Last Thursday the Lower House addressed the drilling for shale gas issue. Esther had been to a protest earlier that day in The Hague to give encouragement to the protesters. There a coalition of residents' committees and nature and environmental organisations asked Minister Verhagen of Economic Affairs to put a provisional stop to drilling for shale and coal gas. Although those that live in the area and environmental organisations do not believe that drilling should go ahead, many parts of the Netherlands have issued licences to go exploring for unconventional gasses such as shale gas. Definitive permission for drilling has happily not yet been granted. We will continue to fight for a total ban on drilling for shale gas!

See you next week.