Police in The Hague, Netherlands arrested and detained over 2400 demonstrators and activists associated with the Extinction Rebellion, Greenpeace or the Milieudefensie group on Saturday who were protesting government fossil fuel subsidies on the A12 motorway near The Hague. Their statement detailed how they spent over 4 hours arresting and removing people from the highway, resorting to methods that included the use of water cannons. Police claimed that their force was “reasonable” and said they are prepared for any more protests starting in the upcoming weeks.
Various smaller demonstrations from other organizations broke out in the surrounding areas in support of the main A12 motorway blockage. The main protest headed towards the tunnels and stopped vehicles while protesters had signs with sayings like “fossil fuels are not cool.” The group stated that they intend to protest for as long as necessary until the government scraps fossil fuel subsidies. The Dutch government has so far ignored such requests.
A report published by The Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) showed that the Dutch government spends US$40.5B per year in subsidies to fossil fuel industries. SOMO identified 31 fossil fuel subsidies in the form of tax breaks to make the production of fossil fuels cheaper and asked the government to publish a plan to phase out fossil fuel subsides by 2025, which the government agreed to do, but has yet to take action on.
Climate and Energy Minister Rob Jetten tweeted support of Extinction Rebellion’s mission, but criticized their methods. Similarly, caretaker Justice Minister Dilan Yesilgoz urged protesters to avoid blocking motorways and warned motorists about future disruptions in the coming weeks.
The groups plan to continue with the demonstrations and to augment them with a more formal lobbying operation.