Nitrogen wars: the Dutch farmers' revolt that turned a nation upside-down

16. listopadu 2023 6:30

Příroda

In 2019, a looming crisis over pollution led the Dutch government to crack down on farm emissions. The response was furious - and offers a warning to other countries about protecting the environment without losing public trustIt was the worst traffic jam in the history of the Netherlands. From Amsterdam to Eindhoven, Rotterdam to Roermond, more than 2,000 tractors lumbered along clogged highways during the morning rush hour of 1 October 2019. Their spinning beacon lights shining amber through the dark and the rain, they caused more than 1,000km of backups on their way to the seat of government in The Hague. Other tractors made their way slowly through the sand of North Sea beaches. They converged at the Malieveld, a park located close to parliament and the primary royal residence, and a traditional scene of protest. Authorities had said that only 75 tractors would be allowed in the park, but wanting to avoid a direct confrontation, they quickly lifted the restriction. Within hours, 2,200 tractors would be squeezed in, parked front grille to trailer hitch.The farmers had gathered to protest against an announcement made the previous week. An advisory committee, chaired by the former deputy prime minister Johan Remkes, had declared that the government would need to take "drastic measures" to reduce emissions of nitrogen, a formidable contributor to pollution of land, seas and skies worldwide. By far the largest share of nitrogen deposited on Dutch land comes from agriculture, so these measures would need to involve, according to the committee's report, buying out and shutting down livestock farms. The report - titled, with a very Dutch combination of understatement and candour, Not Everything Is Possible - did not make clear whether these buyouts would be voluntary or forced. Farmers assumed the worst. Continue reading...
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