Esther’s blog: Don’t look away, but spring into action and look ahead

29 ספטמבר 2022

“Reality cannot be ignored except at a price; and the longer the ignorance is persisted in, the higher and more terrible becomes the price that must be paid.” That is what Aldous Huxley, the British-American author of Brave New World, wrote.

Many political leaders could learn a lot from this quote. We are dealing with multiple worldwide crises: a climate crisis, nature crisis, energy crisis and a social crisis. These are all crises that political leaders could have seen coming from miles away. They are all crises the Party for the Animals and scientists have been warning about for years. But political leaders ignored them and chose to look away.

For example - the Netherlands did not ‘suddenly’ become dependent on a Russian dictator for our energy supply, something the Dutch Minister Hoekstra recently claimed in a speech. We have been dependent on dictators for a long time. The result of conscious political choices, opting for short-term financial gain where choosing to save energy would have been the smart choice in every regard. The sad thing is that crises always affect the most vulnerable - people who did not have that much money to begin with and were already suffering to get by.

If politicians would choose to look ahead some more, rather than look away, we would be preventing problems instead of escalating situations time and again. That holds true for our energy, climate and agriculture, but for our oceans and seas as well. Our oceans are in such a dire state that we cannot procrastinate any longer. Acidification is causing vulnerable coral reefs to disappear, species of fish are going extinct because of overfishing, and climate change is causing our oceans to heat up, all the while seas and oceans are the biggest source of oxygen on earth.

Esther Ouwehand in ‘sea dress’ together with the rest of the Party for the Animals team. Photo by Isabell Janssen.

Last week, it was time for the Dutch political tradition Prinsjesdag, a day on which the sitting government presents its plans for the next year. On that day, every major news agency is present, an opportunity I grab every year by making a statement with my outfit. This time, I used a secondhand ‘sea dress’ made by textile artist Mary Poppelier and the slogan “Turn the tides, save the seas!”, as a statement for looking ahead and protecting our oceans and seas. In the Dutch parliament, we are pleading for securing people’s livelihoods, people who are left out in the cold due to the high energy prices, but we also plead for securing the livelihood of the next generations.

The good news is that, partly thanks to proposals by the Party for the Animals, substantially more financial support is on the way for the most vulnerable groups. The bad news is that the Netherlands and many other western countries are doing all too little to solve the crises ahead of us. That is why citizens are suing their governments more and more often to demand that their health and future are protected. In the European Union as well, too many people look away rather than look ahead. Our MEP Anja Hazekamp was forced to vote against the new EU-law for sustainable energy this month because it still allows for the burning of forests and food for biomass and biofuel. The Party for the Animals is a strong proponent of ambitious and binding targets to increase the use of renewable energy in Europe, but not a proponent of greenwashing.

That is why we submitted a new law in the Dutch parliament last week: the Climate Law 1.5. It would be a significant improvement of the current Dutch climate law, an alternative path to ensure that the future of our children and grandchildren stands a chance. If this law is passed, the Netherlands will be forced to do everything in its power to keep the temperature from rising more than 1.5 degrees.

Don’t look away from animal suffering
For too long, people have also looked away from the immense suffering inflicted on billions of animals around the world. Animals have paid the highest price for this neglect. But this has also caused major problems for us humans. The industrial livestock industry is not just a disaster for animals, but for nature, the climate and our public health as well. More and more people luckily understand that a safer world for animals means a safer world for us humans. And more and more people raise their voice to protect animals and nature.

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Speech by Marianne Thieme, founder of the Party for the Animals, at the Vegan Summit.

This month, a successful Vegan Summit was organised by our Polish partners of Green REV. They invited politicians, experts and artists, united for a common cause: making a healthy future for humans and animals possible. The founder of the Dutch Party for the Animals, Marianne Thieme, was one of its speakers. She showed why it is of crucial importance that people become a part of our ecocentric, international political movement for our planet and all of its inhabitants. Especially now. After all - we need more politicians who dare to spring into action and who will not look away, but ahead!

And there are more beautiful developments. This summer, over 1.4 million people from 27 countries objected against animal testing in the European Citizens’ Initiative ‘Save Cruelty Free Cosmetics’. The Dutch municipality of Haarlem will be the first in the world to ban meat adverts, thanks to the Party for the Animals. After countries such as the Netherlands, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, France, and Belgium, Latvia decided to end the extremely cruel fur industry earlier this month. After all, animals are not a piece of clothing, but intelligent and sentient beings. In Switzerland, a proposal to ban industrial livestock farming, supported by our Swiss sister party Tierpartei Schweiz amongst others, has received a lot of public support.

As this shows, looking away is on the decline. Humans are moral beings. We all know that what is being done to animals and our planet is not okay. It just takes some time to find the courage to no longer ignore it.

Until next month!

Esther Ouwehand
Party leader Dutch Party for the Animals