Groningen’s students march for climate action

Students across the Netherlands demonstrated on Thursday for action to be taken to address climate change. The protests also arrived in Groningen, with close to 100 people taking part.
By Jacob Thorburn

The protest took the form of a march which lasted an hour. Close to eighty five protestors followed a short route starting at the Grote Markt, moving through Vismarkt and Zuiderdiep before coming through Herestraat and ending back where it began. There was a small police presence, with two officers serving as chaperones for the crowd.

Before any marching began the assembled crowd listened to four speeches. They touched on different topics, ranging from protecting local trees to denouncing the role of big businesses and specifically the oil company Shell. People of all ages were present in the crowd and curious bystanders drifted in and out of the Grote Markt.

Unheard by politicians

The strike was organised by ROOD, the youth organisation of the Socialist Party, but other organisations including Groningen Free Activism and the New Communist Party Groningen also participated.

Co-organiser and member of ROOD, Bram Dingelstad, explains that he was more than willing to take the lead role in organising a climate change protest. He says this is ‘a movement and a platform for students and the youth of Groningen who feel unheard by politicians.’

Although Bram prepared for one hundred participants, he insisted that the strike would have been a success even if only one person had turned up. Bram hopes to make today’s event a weekly or bi-weekly occurrence.

Encouraging global change

Student members of ROOD such as Thomas, a law student at the RUG, were pleased with today’s action and the amount of people who joined. Thomas felt frustrated voicing his concerns alone. He explains that ‘when we are a larger group, our voices are more easily heard,’ and he hopes movements such as today’s strike can encourage global change.

One member of the crowd, who did not wish to be named, was disappointed with the lack of cohesion between different groups at the protest. He bemoaned the lack of communication between activists which, in his opinion, made the protest seem ‘disjointed at times’.

Although there were students present at the event, not many appeared to be skipping their classes in order to take part in the strike. One student who did was Nele, a psychology student from Germany. She says she ‘wants to fight now whilst there is still a chance’ and there is no use in studying for a future that could be hopelessly broken.

Twenty countries, three continents

Thursday’s strike works in solidarity with the #YouthforClimate campaign, the international hashtag movement that was kickstarted in Sweden by 16 year old Greta Thunberg. The movement has now reached twenty countries over three continents.

The Facebook group Students for Climate NL created events for February 21 in an attempt to organise demonstrators across the Netherlands. Student strikes were also arranged for Nijmegen and Amsterdam.


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