Community Update - Hope in Action

It took an earthquake to change minds in the Netherlands. The largest gas field in Europe was discovered in Groningen in the 1950s. The drills soon followed, and with them, the damage that has revealed itself over decades. [1] Earthquakes caused by gas drilling are shaking the lives of locals - as if a sign from the planet to say stop.

So, communities got together and took action. Over the decades they fought back and ultimately pushed the Dutch government to close the gas field by 2022 and phase out gas from Groningen entirely by 2030. [2] By now most people know earthquakes are not the only reason that gas has got to go. It’s also because gas is fuelling climate change and threatening our bigger home. The planet.

The story of people power to phase out gas in Groningen gives me hope. Not hope in the passive sense - sitting back and hoping things happen. It’s an active hope. A hope that that builds more confidence to act - because you can see others acting and changing things.

This is what WeMove Europe sets out to do. We act together to change things and to inspire more change through that action. Individual acts - from Groningen to Gdansk - when put together, create something bigger than we can ever achieve alone. That is when a Europe that puts people and planet first becomes possible.

This summer, we have the chance to put the planet first. If we win a crucial vote in the European Parliament this July, no one will be able to call gas ‘green’ anymore. Better yet, billions in private investments could be channelled to renewable energy instead. You can join this campaign here.

But climate action is not the only place where hope can be found. In 2019, hundreds of people kept a vigil going for months at a church in the Hague to protect a family from being forcefully deported. [3] They used a law that prevents the police from accessing a place of worship during a service. Their action meant the family was able to stay. Then the government extended that right to other families and 700 children! And on an even wider level, what they have done is to challenge a culture of punishment in the Netherlands. [4] Here’s one last story.

It’s about Karin, a member of the WeMove Europe community just like you. She came to her first in-person meeting this month in Belgium. The first thing that struck me was how upbeat she was about the EU. She said the EU keeps Belgium accountable on environmental standards. That made me smile. It’s good to be reminded that there are really important reasons for the EU to thrive.

But she so wants it to go further on where we get our energy from. Local community-based energy cooperatives are struggling to survive. And people struggle to get any information or support to sign up to these cooperatives. What if billions of green deal money went there? What if that helped us kick dependency on oil and gas from Russia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the US? What if that helped us kick our dependency on fossil fuels full stop?

What I love about Karin is that she doesn’t just passively hope that things will happen. She turns up, contributes ideas, signs petitions, writes emails and chips in. She’s even now getting geared up to call politicians in Brussels so that they don’t mistakenly back gas in July. You can join that action too by the way!

There is so much hope. We have so much power. Don’t you forget it.

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