Last night almost 5000 came out for the largest protest against gas extraction in Dutch history. In the northern city of Groningen, people arrived in huge numbers, carrying torches and home-made banners. Children and adults marched through the city centre demanding an end to gas extraction in the region. They also called on Shell and Exxon to pay for the damage to their homes caused by over a thousand earthquakes induced by extraction, and for the Dutch government to break its ties with the gas industry and speed up the energy transition away from fossil fuels.
The Groningen gas field, Europe’s largest, was discovered in 1959 with extraction starting soon after. It is operated by ‘NAM’, a joint venture between Shell and Exxon. Concerns about gas-related earthquakes were first raised in the 1980s with people first rising up in larger numbers in 2013. There are now over 100,000 people living in houses damaged by these earthquakes, not including historical monuments and churches that have also been affected.
This is one of many interconnected stories of struggling communities rising up and organising against fossil fuels around Europe and beyond. Keep it in the ground!