Bonaire residents, Greenpeace set ultimatum for Dutch govt.

   Bonaire residents, Greenpeace  set ultimatum for Dutch govt.

The seven Bonaire claimants who together with Greenpeace are holding the Dutch State responsible for protecting the Bonaire people against climate change. (Roëlton Thodé / Greenpeace photo)


KRALENDIJK/THE HAGUE--Seven inhabitants of Bonaire, together with Greenpeace on Thursday sent a pre-litigation letter to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte which states that the Dutch State has a legal obligation to protect the people of Bonaire against climate change.

Residents Angelo Vrolijk, Judmar Emerenciana, Helen Angela, Jackie Bernabela, Onnie Emerenciana, Danique Martis and Kjelld Masoud Kroon demand that Bonaire is protected in the climate crisis, and that the Netherlands reduces its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions more quickly. In their opinion, the Dutch government is doing too little to stop climate change in Bonaire and is barely protecting the island against the consequences of climate change.

“We request your urgent attention to the acute threat of climate change for the safety and continued existence of Bonaire and its inhabitants. There is a grave threat, but there is also hope. This does require that the State, and you as prime minister, show leadership and take your responsibility. The State also has a legal obligation to do so,” stated the claimants.

The claimants pointed out that like Saba and St. Eustatius, Bonaire has been part of the Netherlands since 2010, and that as such the Dutch State has an obligation towards Bonaire and its people.

“Bonaire’s location and geography make the island particularly vulnerable to the consequences of climate change. Climate change seriously threatens the life and living environment of the inhabitants of Bonaire. The consequences of climate change to Bonaire are already clear and will increase in severity,” it was stated in the 20-page letter.

“Climate change means that one fifth of Bonaire runs the risk of being permanently inundated by the sea by the end of this century. Coral reefs that act as natural breakwaters are disappearing and heatwaves are increasing. Climate change is altering life on the island.”

The claimants asked Rutte to confirm within no more than six weeks that the State is willing to negotiate with the claimants to reach an agreement regarding the demands by the end of September. If no response is received or no agreement is reached, the claimants will take their case to court.

In a written response to the letter, Dutch Minister for Climate and Energy Rob Jetten stated that the urgency of the need to tackle climate change in Bonaire was clear. He confirmed that with the assistance of the Bonaire Climate Table, he would work on making the island resilient against the consequences of climate change.

Earlier this week, quarter master of the Bonaire Climate Table, former Dutch Minister Ed Nijpels presented his report in which he concluded that there was too little capacity in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba and too little financial means and know-how to set up climate policy. He urged the Dutch government to take its responsibility.

As for Saba and St. Eustatius, Nijpels advised to draft a climate agenda for the two islands, supervised by an independent expert in climate mitigation and in consultation with the islands’ Executive Councils and social organisations.

Besides capacity support from the ministries in The Hague, there needs to be financial support. “That support is indispensable in order to arrive at climate policy on the islands,” said Nijpels, who shared his observations of his recent visit to Saba and St. Eustatius in relation to nature and sustainability.

The Daily Herald

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