On Thursday the 3rd of August, around 80 European and African young people from the Young Friends of the Earth network visited the province of Groningen in The Netherlands. In order to understand the devastating effects of gas extraction, the group went on an excursions which took them along affected communities and the biggest gas extraction field of Europe.
Groningen appeared to be a perfect example for this years' summer camp theme of 'climate justice'. Since around 1960, NAM (Shell & Exxon-mobile combined) have been extracting gas in the province. Gas extraction has been causing earthquakes which have serious impact on the communities living in the area since around 1980. Over 70,000 houses have been damaged already, which is affecting over 100,000 people. NAM is compensating too little, leaving affected communities with broken houses and broken futures, yet the Dutch government is covering nothing at all.
First stop of the excursion was at the care farm of the Ten Haven family. The family extended their farm business by adding a care section. Especially for their daughter, which is facing mental disabilities. Nowadays, the farm is home to several people with mental disabilities, yet the question is for how long this can continue. The family Ten Haven is challenged with earthquakes which is affecting their house badly. Reparations have been made throughout the entire house including the cellar and attic, but these reparations have proven not to be sufficient.
After having seen physical damage to houses and mental damage to the family Ten Haven, the excursion went along to the cause of the earthquakes. At 'Slochteren', the largest gas field of Europe was visited. After hearing technical details on the extraction of gas, the excursion was finished in the 'Wolken Fabriek': a renovated sugar beet factory. The history on the climate justice problem in Groningen was presented and an overview of activists group was given.
'It was really empowering to see how local communities are mobilizing to fight against two giant corporations and the government that puts profits above the people's interests that they must and first represent. I saw these things done in Romania and I see this is happening all over the world, but I am confident that people will win their battles and will change things at local level, but every single victory it will have a global impact.' Alina Caradeanu, Edelvais Association, Romania