Climate March a big success: bigger attendance than expected

Written by Naomi de Ridder, Romy Caverlé and Chirine Aboussaad

The Climate March on Sunday the 10th of March was a huge success. The attendance was much bigger than expected: 40.000 people attended the march, that is 15.000 more than anticipated. Jasperine Schupp (46), press officer from Milieudefensie, is very satisfied with the outcome. She sees the success as a clear signal to the government.

One of the initiators of the Climate March was Milieudefensie (environmental defense). Milieudefensie has worked towards a more environmentally conscient Netherlands for almost 50 years now. They use their campaigns to tackle climate change and to raise awareness for the severity of this problem. Other initiators were the FNV (the biggest labor union of The Netherlands), Oxfam Novib, Greenpeace, DeGoedeZaak (a citizen’s movement) and the Woonbond (an association to protect renters). They came together to raise awareness for the government to stop making false promises and to choose real solutions instead of vague statements.

Approximately 40.000 people from all over the country traveled to a soaking wet Amsterdam to march for the climate. This resulted in the biggest climate march ever in the Netherlands. Schupp is very pleased by the enormous attendance: “Despite the weather and cold, The Climate March sent off a huge signal that the subject of environmental conscience is very much alive in Dutch society, hopefully it also sent off a signal to the government. All big Dutch news outlets were present, the media attention was overwhelming”.

When asked about the core goals of the Climate March, Schupp said the following: “We want a fair climate policy in which the big polluters have to start paying. Big companies must contribute fairly to a solution for the climate problems and the government has to keep them to their promises”. To illustrate Schupp’s statement: one problem that the government can change for example is taxing the emission of CO2 to motivate companies to be more responsible. To name a big offender; Amsterdam’s airport Schiphol is also responsible for a lot of emission of CO2, yet the government still makes it possible for the airport to expand. Air traffic causes a lot of air pollution, which also threatens the health of people living near airports. These health defects are just one result of pollution due to air traffic.

It’s important that the Climate March motivates the coalition to make serious efforts to achieve the climate targets agreed in Paris. Otherwise this could have serious consequences. For example, D66 threatened they will leave the cabinet if nothing happens. Schupp is optimistic about the influence of the Climate March and she thinks the march did its job to raise awareness: “The Climate March proofs a change of tides and the people of The Netherlands want to put pressure on the government to implement this change. As long as there is a rising demand from the public, change on a bigger level remains realistic.” That this climate march was memorable wouldn’t do it justice, however the change it can set in motion is yet to be seen.

Do you want to know why Zsuzsika Sjoerds from Stand Up For Science, the Union of Concerned Scientists (Science for a Healthy Planet and Safer World), participated in the march? Listen to the podcast ‘Science denial is not a climate policy.’