Greta, tens of thousands, in 'biggest ever' Amsterdam climate demo

Greta Thunberg joined the rally (Robin UTRECHT)
Greta Thunberg joined the rally (Robin UTRECHT)

Environmental activist Greta Thunberg joined tens of thousands in the "biggest ever" climate march through Amsterdam Sunday, aimed at pushing the climate crisis up the political agenda 10 days ahead of crunch national elections.

Carrying placards reading: "Our house is on fire", "In 2050: 'Daddy, what are trees?'", and "Climate Justice Now," demonstrators packed into Amsterdam's central square and set off through the streets.

Around 70,000 people took part, smashing previous records for such a march, said organisers, a coalition of pressure groups, including Extinction Rebellion, Fridays for Future, Oxfam, and Greenpeace.

"We are not standing on the brink of a catastrophe, we are living in it," Thunberg told the crowd.

"People on the front lines of the climate crisis have been experiencing the first-hand consequences of it for decades now and they have been sounding the alarm, but we have not been listening," she added.

Her speech was briefly interrupted by a protester, who said the demonstration was focusing too much on politics rather than the climate.

"The atmosphere is amazing. I can feel the energy of a lot of young people who want to change the world," 19-year-old political science student Tijn Veenhoven told AFP.

"I'm just angry because the world is angry and no one is doing anything about it," said physics student Ieke Snel, 18.

Polls show the Netherlands election is currently a dead heat between the centre-right VVD of outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte and a new party, the NSC, led by anti-corruption champion Pieter Omtzigt.

A coalition of the Greens and the leftist PvdA is sitting in third place, according to the polls. This party is led by former European Commission heavyweight Frans Timmermans, the architect of the EU's Green Deal agenda.

Surveys show the key issues of the election campaign have been the ongoing housing crisis in the Netherlands, living standards, and immigration.

According to the most recent poll by I&O research, climate change came in fifth of the issues on voters' minds, behind housing, healthcare, immigration, and poverty.

Climate change is now considered less of a key topic than was the case at the last election in 2021, according to the I&O research poll.

"With the crises continuing to stack up and a measly six years to achieve the Dutch climate goals in 2030, the upcoming elections are the most crucial ever," organisers said in a joint statement.