Thousands of Dutch farmers, many driving tractors, poured into The Hague to protest government moves to rein in carbon and nitrogen emissions to better fight climate change.
The government called in the military to block key intersections in downtown The Hague to prevent farmers reaching the commercial and political center of the city, which is the seat of the Dutch Parliament.
Large camouflage trucks carrying shipping containers were deployed at major road.
Mayor of The Hague Johan Remkes appealed to the farmers to stick to agreements about where they could protest — meaning they had to stay out of the town center.
While livestock farming is among the chief causes of nitrogen pollution, the farmers say they are being disproportionately blamed for climate change, and that their crucial role in food production is being overlooked.
The protest campaign follows Dutch court rulings that the government has an obligation to cut greenhouse emissions more significantly “in order to protect the life and family life of citizens” in the country.
Dutch politicians are reportedly considering imposing new restrictions on food production and farming in an effort to drastically cut nitrogen output, in opposition to concern from farmers and farming groups.
Farming organisations say their members are sick of being described by politicians, the media and activists as polluters and animal abusers.
The protests – the equivalent of France’s Gilets Jaunes – have widespread support from the Dutch people. Some farmers drove along the North Sea beach, parking there and coming into town on buses.
Farmers by the hundreds parked on a large grassy Malieveld just outside the city center and police effectively turned the main highway into the city into a tractor parking lot.
Their lobby is powerful because of the economic significance of agriculture to the Dutch economy. The Dutch farmers’ organization, LTO, says exports from the country’s nearly 54,000 farms and agriculture businesses were worth 90.3 billion euros ($98.3 billion) last year.
But it comes at an environmental cost, with farms emitting carbon and methane.
Other measures take aim at the country’s construction and transport (aviation & shipping) industries, which also are responsible for emissions.
ABC Flash Point Greenhouse News 2019.