Why didn’t I go to the Fossil Free Europe Gathering last year when it was held in The Netherlands? Man, this seems to be a recurring theme with me. I should have gone to Ende Gelaende 2015. I should have gone to that Fossil Free weekend. I should have participated in that direct action against the coal port in Amsterdam.
But yeah, no use crying over spilled milk. This year I saw that it was being held in Brussels, just a couple of hours away by train, so I definitely was going. Or at least, I definitely wanted to go. Seeing that there was only limited space, a bit over 60 people, and Europe has a lot of Fossil Free campaigns and campaigners, there was a selection procedure. I had to sell myself. Not my strongest part.
Credit: Saku Mäki
But okay, here goes nothing. After I had mailed my pitch I had to keep my fingers crossed for quite some time. My fingers are still hurting. I’ve been rather active this year for Fossielvrij.nl but you can’t take anything for granted, right? But in the end I got the nod and was going. Whoohoo. Great! There were actually quite a few people going from The Netherlands. We had the largest group but seeing that we are all rather modest people that shouldn’t be a problem. We’d mingle and blend right in.
The weekend itself was great! What we did was pretty much look at past, present and future of our movement. I won’t bore you with the trivial stuff but I think I can say that we’ve been rather successful lately. Whether it has been on getting cities (pledge) to divest (Münster, San Francisco, Melbourne, Berlin and Stuttgart amongst others), getting big pension funds to change their policies on investments (ABP) or just kick-ass direct actions (Ende Gelaende, Art not oil), we have caused quite a stir.
Credit: Saku Mäki
And we’ve changed from being a fly in the ointment for the fossil fuel industry to a force to be reckoned with. If there was ever proof necessary that a small group of dedicated people can get things to change than I think we are a good example of just that.
So what is it that motivates us? For me personally it is a sense of urgency. Over the course of the years we’ve all seen the news reports with regards to climate change get worse and worse. That gives us a couple of choices. Deny the science and go on living like there is no tomorrow (pun intended). Acknowledge that it is a problem but think that this is bigger than anything you can do to solve it. Or you can try to fight it and stop runaway climate change. I think pretty much all of us fall into that last category.
And to accomplish that we use divestment. It is not the goal but a tactic. And a tactic that seems to work. But the bigger goal for me, and I hope for all of us, is to build a global movement to fight runaway climate change. If this weekend did anything for me it is to get my motivation and focus onto a higher level. Even though we are all just a small part of this whole movement we are all equally important and we all do what we can.
Credit: Saku Mäki
I do believe we are winning. That more and more people see that there is no sound moral and financial argument for extracting all fossil fuels. Thinking that infinite growth is possible on a finite planet just doesn’t make any sense. And if we all do what lies within our possibilities and keep on pushing I’m sure we will stop this madness.
So if you want to be like me and not miss out on anything stay informed through www.gofossilfree.org and the Facebook pages of all the different groups. For the next events in The Netherlands please check out Liset’s list of upcoming events. Because even though a small group of people can change a lot we need everyone to change everything. Hope to see all of you there!
Credit: Olov Källgarn