Extinction Rebellion daily A12 blockades set to start today, but public support waning

Extinction Rebellion (XR) plans to block the A12 highway in The Hague again today in protest against the government’s support for the fossil fuel industry. Unlike with previous protests, the climate activists plan to keep this one going until the government stops all its subsidies to the fossil industry. If the police remove or arrest activists, new ones will replace them.

Past XR highway blockades have attracted hundreds of participants and even thousands of supporters. And while the vast majority of Netherlands residents believe in the cause, support for blocking the highway to get the point across is waning, according to the RTL Nieuwspanel survey.

While 70 percent of Netherlands residents believe that the government must stop fossil fuel subsidies, only 14 percent still support the XR highway blockades. Support for the blockades is higher among young adults (27 percent) and voters for left-wing parties GroenLinks (35 percent) and PvdD (55 percent).

Asked why they don’t support the highway blockades, the 80 percent of opposed respondents said the actions were too aggressive, not the right way to tackle the problem, and placed too high a burden on the police. They also called it too disruptive for everyday people.

Ahead of the weekly Cabinet meeting on Friday, Justice Minister Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius said she was troubled that the protestors plan to press ahead with plans to block the stretch of highway in The Hague despite attempts to prohibit such blockades. She said she would try to present an alternative location for the demonstration.

On Friday afternoon, outgoing Minister for Social Affairs Karien van Gennip said she believes that the right to demonstrate is a “great good,” however she hopes that the protesters will gather at the Malieveld instead. The new deputy prime minister stepped in for Mark Rutte at the weekly press conference since he is currently in India attending the G20 summit.

“Make sure that ambulances can pass through, that the police can carry out their duties, and that people can use the A12. The Malieveld is large enough,” she added.

But XR determined to demonstrate on the A12 because it is a relevant place, a spokesperson for the climate action group told RLT Nieuws. “It is between the temporary Tweede Kamer and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate, and they are responsible for fossil subsidies, so we want to make our voice heard there.”

According to the XR spokesperson, many civil rights have been obtained through these “disruptive actions,” including safe cycle paths and the 40-hour work week. “It’s a proven strategy,” she said. “In addition, petitions have been signed, and climate marches have been taking place for 50 years. We have had climate diplomacy for 30 years. It has not achieved nearly enough.”

She acknowledged that the highway blockade will inconvenience people and that they’ll find it annoying. “But the nuisance of a flood or a forest fire is many times greater.”

A recent study by OMO, Oil Change International, and Milieudefensie showed that the Dutch government misses out on 37.5 billion euros in income yearly due to schemes that favor using fossil fuels. And that while there is overwhelming scientific evidence that greenhouse gases from fossil fuels are the main cause of global warming.

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