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13/6/2017 / Issue #013 / Text: Code Rood

Code Rood

Code Rood is a grass roots network that is calling for mass civil disobedience in order to confront the fossil fuel industry. On the 24th of June we will draw a red line against climate change in the port of Amsterdam, the largest gasoline harbour in the world and 2nd largest coal harbour in Europe, after Rotterdam. This day will mark the second anniversary of the Urgenda Climate Case in the Netherlands, in which a judge ruled that the government was taking insufficient action against climate change. Rather than acting on this, the Dutch government decided to appeal the historic verdict. 
The climate is already visibly changing and politicians allow for continued record breaking greenhouse gas emissions. We are building a militant climate movement that makes a switch from mass protest to mass disobedience. We are calling for everybody to join us in this collective struggle. When we join forces we can break the power of the fossil fuel industry!

Interview with Ricardo, a climate justice activist who helped occupy Vitol’s gasoline terminal in April and who is also involved in Code Rood. 

What is Code Rood and how did it come about?
Code Rood is a group of people that come together as individuals from across the political spectrum that are convinced it is time for the climate movement to make the step towards mass disobedience. It is grassroots and horizontally organized and all the major decisions have been taken during action conferences through plenary discussions. Much of its inspiration can be said to come from the open-cast lignite-mine occupations of Ende Gelände in East-Germany of the last years. Over 150 from the Netherlands participated in the Ende Gelände action last year, so when we came back to the Netherlands we figured that there is momentum to bring similar mass disobedience actions to the Netherlands. 

And why do you think people need to start disobeying?
I think it is quite clear that we cannot leave it to the authorities and the corporations. If we want to prevent the worst climate catastrophes from happening we have to take drastic action now. But when we look at what the powerful have been doing and the result of two decades of climate summits like Copenhagen and Paris, it is clear that change is not coming from them. There is absolutely no ethical justification for continuing burning more coal. And still, more coal has been burned today than yesterday. And also in the Netherlands, look at how the previous government reacted to the Urgenda case and how CO2 emissions last year hit at a record high. 

But why would you need to break the law you ask?
Well, I do agree that there are various ways of doing things and I certainly do not know the definite answer on how to achieve social change. I do think many activities can be complementary, from lobbying politicians to raising awareness and from building our own alternatives (transition towns etc) to industrial sabotage. And what I do know however is that we have to start to come together. Individuals alone can’t stop climate change. It can’t be done through consumers’ choice. Recycling is not enough. If you think recycling or commodity activism is enough, you are underestimating the problem. One of the more harmful things that happened to environmental movement was convincing people that their personal consumer choices will make enough of an impact. 
So you think a one-day action on the 24th of June will help?
Hah, yes. It will stop business-as-usual for a day. But I think you have to understand that lowering CO2 emissions for a day just in itself is not the important part. Personally I do not think you should see the 24th of June as the end of all actions. I think we have to adapt a long-term perspective. We have to grow. You won’t have thousands of people join out of nothing. This is hopefully not going to be the last Code Rood action. Perhaps one day we can shut down the entire Maasvlakte, but we have grow the movement first and get new people involved. I think there is a lot of symbolic power in direct action as well. In daily life, as individuals we feel powerless and isolated, but through collective action we regain control, find out that we are not alone and that we don’t just have to accept all that is coming at us.

Finally, why Amsterdam?
People think of Amsterdam as this progressive and green city with its parks and bicycles. But we want to expose Amsterdam’s dirty secret. Amsterdam is Europe’s second largest coal port and the world’s biggest gasoline port. Over 75% of all trade is related to fossil fuel. Much of the coal that is violently extracted from regions in Russia and Colombia, causing local and indigenous communities to be displaced, comes through Amsterdam. And also the ‘dirty diesel’ (gasoline blended with toxic waste) that is dumped in the Global South originates for a large part from Amsterdam. It plays a crucial role as a transport hub for the world’s fossil industry and is therefore a perfect target.

Action & Camp
The action takes place on the 24th of June. The type of protest is a sit-in. We will also organize an action camp from the 22nd of June till the 26th of June. At this supporting camp we will be able to prepare and train for the action and get to know each other.
On Thursday the 22nd of June at 11:00 AM join us at train station Amsterdam Sloterdijk with your bike and camping gear to help build up the camp!!
Everyone can help out in the way they want to! There is no experience required. We have several levels of engagement, from helping with cooking at the camp to (possibly) chaining oneself to fossil fuel infrastructure. Everybody can make a valuable contribution! Join our action training in Amsterdam on Sunday June 11. For more info and registration, go to