GreenPeace wants the Netherlands to go to court: ‘Hardly any plans for Bonaire against climate change’
October 1, 2022 | Marit Severijnse
Greenpeace wants to take the Dutch state to court because it would not do enough to tackle the effects of climate change on the Caribbean islands. The board on Bonaire is reluctant to respond.
“There are plans for the European Netherlands to protect residents against the consequences of climate change. Those plans are almost ready for Bonaire. That must change immediately. If we ask Rutte kindly, nothing will change.”
Large parts of the island under water
The Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU) has been commissioned by Green Peace to conduct research into the impact of climate change on Bonaire. One fifth of Bonaire will be submerged in 2150. A growing number of sick people and deaths from extreme weather and heat waves. Moreover, only 13 of the 86 dive sites will be left.
According to the university, this is a realistic picture of what the island could look like at the end of this century if not enough action is taken.
According to Greenpeace, it is unrealistic to expect Bonaire to be able to protect itself as an island against the dangerous consequences of climate change.
“We don’t ask that from the municipality of Bloemendaal, from Valkenburg,” says campaign manager Dewi Zloch. “The Dutch government must ensure that. Policies must be in place that benefit all of us. Whether you live on Bonaire, Ameland or in Valkenburg.”
According to Zloch, the research is an important first step. “In order to be able to make plans, you first have to know what the risks are.”
Politics Bonaire responds
“Everyone is free to take the legal route. The board of Bonaire stands for dialogue and cooperation,” said Lieutenant Governor Edison Rijna. He didn’t want to say more about it.
Island councilor Clark Abraham (Demokrat/PDB) is happy with a design if The Hague is not in a hurry. “Greenpeace has taken a first step, but Bonaire can and will certainly have to follow that route, if The Hague does not give home.”
“The causes of climate change are foreign and not local. So the perpetrators should also pay for the prevention of mitigation of the consequences.”
“But as a special municipality, Bonaire must also take responsibility itself. It is inappropriate to demand something if your own homework has not been done enough. We need to prepare ourselves for climate change ecologically, but also socio-economically,” he said. “Otherwise it will happen to us again.”
From the board, Deputy James Kroon (UPB) no response to the deposit. “As the Executive Council, we take this report on the consequences of climate change for Bonaire very seriously. Together with the Ministry of Economic Affairs, we want to set up a climate table as soon as possible, good steps are being taken. So the days and months get busy.
It is not the first time that Greenpeace has taken the Netherlands to court. “But the fact that we can prepare this together with residents of Bonaire makes this case unique,” says Zloch.
It is not clear in what way they are involved. “As soon as we take the first legal step, which is to issue a summons letter to the government, we can tell you more about this.”
Enforce actions through court
GreenPeace itself thinks that there is a good chance that they can win. “The Netherlands has a short but historic history of climate lawsuits. In recent years, for example, Urgenda and Milieudefensie have won against the government and the large polluting oil company Shell, urging them to do more to reduce CO2 emissions.”
What does climate change mean for the Caribbean regions? John Samson takes you on a journey around all six islands and talks to locals and experts. There is something different going on on every island.
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