A people’s revolt against eco-tyranny

From the Netherlands to Sri Lanka, people have had enough of the elite’s green hysteria.

Brendan O'Neill

Brendan O'Neill
chief political writer

Topics Politics World

If police were opening fire on protesters in a European nation, we would have heard about it, right? If there was a mass uprising of working people in a European Union country, taking to the streets in their thousands to cause disruption to roads, airports and parliament itself, it would be getting a lot of media coverage in the UK, wouldn’t it? The radical left would surely say something, too, given its claims to support ordinary people against The System. Cops shooting at working men and women whose only crime is that they pounded the streets to demand fairness and justice? There would be solidarity demos in the UK, for sure.

Well, all of this is happening, right now, in a nation that’s just an hour’s flight from Britain, and the media coverage here is notable by its absence. As for the left in Britain and elsewhere in Europe – there’s just silence. This is the story of the revolting Dutch farmers. These tractor-riding rebels have risen up against their government and its plans to introduce stringent environmental measures that they say will severely undermine their ability to make a living. They have been protesting for a couple of years now, but their fury has intensified in recent weeks. They’ve blocked motorways, blocked roads to airports, set fire to bales of hay, and descended on The Hague. Things are so serious that yesterday, in the province of Friesland, police opened fire. Mercifully, no one was injured.

There has been some reportage outside of the Netherlands, of course. But it has been strikingly muted. And it isn’t hard to see why. This is a people’s revolt against eco-tyranny, against the modern elite’s determination to slash ‘harmful’ emissions with little regard for the consequences such action will have for working people and poor people. To the formers of elite consensus opinion, for whom environmentalism is tantamount to a religion, the sight of pesky little people rebelling against green diktats is too much to bear. So they either demonise these dissenters, as is happening in the Netherlands, or they ignore them in the hope they will go away, as is happening outside the Netherlands.

The farmers have a very good case. Their concern is that the government’s plans for slashing greenhouse gases will hit farming – and other industries – very hard indeed. The targets, introduced last month, commit the Netherlands to halving its use of nitrogen compounds by 2030. The government says emissions of nitrogen oxide and ammonia, both of which emanate from livestock, will need to be drastically cut. This will entail farmers getting rid of vast numbers of their livestock, potentially devastating their livelihoods. Fishermen are concerned, too. As of next year, fishing permits will be given out on the basis of the eco-friendliness of the trawler the fisherman is using, and many are worried that they’ll end up permit-less, unable to earn a living. They have blocked harbours in solidarity with the farmers. The construction industry could also suffer. Courts have blocked numerous infrastructure projects on the basis that the emissions they cause will breach the new eco-rules.

The tough Dutch measures sum up how unhinged and elitist the climate-change ideology has become. It was a distant, unaccountable oligarchy that helped to foist these livelihood-wrecking targets on the Netherlands – namely, the European Court of Justice, which ruled in 2018 that the Netherlands should take firmer action against nitrogen emissions. That ruling was upheld by the Dutch High Court. And so was it determined by the eco-overlords that reducing emissions should take priority over the right of working people to make a good living. Why is this all being done? To protect plants, basically. As one report says, the problem in the Netherlands is that ‘plant diversity has decreased as nitrogen-loving grasses, shrubs and trees move in’. Call me a climate-denying monster, but I think people’s right to work should take precedence over the rights of plants.

It isn’t only in the Netherlands that people are rising up against eco-elitism and its noxious impact on the working class. The year-long gilets jaunes revolt in France started as a mass uprising against the government’s big green idea of hiking up the cost of fuel. In a brilliant challenge to the otherworldliness of the eco-obsessed elites, gilets jaunes’ banners said that where establishment types bleat about ‘the end of the world’, the rest of us are concerned with ‘the end of the month’. And in Sri Lanka there is now widespread disarray, with blackouts, food shortages and a lack of fuel, all of which has in part been caused by the cult of Net Zero. Last year Sri Lanka announced it would become the first 100 per cent organic country, a ‘Green Sri Lanka’. Experts warned that it wouldn’t be able to produce enough food and energy under these eco-conditions, but the government didn’t listen. And now the people are suffering, and fighting back.

People have had enough of the green hysteria of the global elites. Fighting against the fantasy Armageddon that climate change will apparently bring about might provide the political and media classes with a sense of purpose, but the consequences of their delusional eco-policies will be dire both for working people in the West and poor people in the underdeveloped South. What people need, and want, is growth, work, economic security and greater comfort – none of which will be delivered by the deranged determination to slash ‘bad’ emissions down to zero. Post-lockdown we will ‘Build Back Better’, the elites said, but in truth they continue to pursue the anti-growth, anti-construction, anti-human ideology of protecting nature from marauding mankind and his evil poisons. Let us hope that the brewing global revolt against all this eco-derangement gives rise to a firmer defence of industry, progress and the importance of prioritising the needs of humanity over the feelings of Gaia.

Brendan O’Neill is spiked’s chief political writer and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy

Picture by: Getty.

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Topics Politics World


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