Biomass activist Fenna Swart takes grassroots politics to Amsterdam

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December 29, 2021 - Dutch activist Fenna Swart, one of the leading voices against woody biomass in Europe, is turning her grassroots network into a political organization in the Netherlands.

Swart was elected in 2018 as a representative for the Green Party in Amsterdam. But she quit her party the next year, disgusted with what she proclaimed as ‘deceit’ in the creation of several new biomass plants. After that, she gained national and international attention as she consistently battled deforestation for the biomass industry in the last three years, going all the way to the European parliament in Brussels.

Now Swart is challenging the big national Dutch parties with her own party ST3M, in the elections for the Amsterdam city council of March 2022. She calls the Five Star Movement in Italy ‘one of the forerunners for our cause.’

For 10 years now, under the leadership of right-wing Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Dutch politics has been plagued by recurring scandals about fraud and backroom politics at the expense of citizens. Swart promises to change that with her new party: "Knowledge and expertise from the grassroots, which have been formed in recent years in response to a faulty and non-functioning parliamentary system, are essential and form the backbone of ST3M"

 

According to Swart, it is time for a radical change of plans: "The whole system just isn't right, the way the current government operates in collaboration with lobby organizations from industry. First they prepare policies together, and then they try to force it down through all the layers of the municipal system. But everybody knows that a successful energy transition depends on open debate between citizens and government, based on evidence-based innovations from science. ST3M has collected that knowledge based on an enormous constituency that has grown organically in recent years through digital networks at local, regional and (inter)national level”

 

The grassroots organizations that Swarts counts on have been popping up like mushrooms all over the city. They include residents and action groups for nature, clean air and a better climate, against the proliferation of data centers, wind turbines and biomass plants. They all have a common goal: a fair and democratic energy transition based on common sense and science, with the costs borne by the large multinationals and energy companies.

 

According to Swart, the faults in our political system run deeper than energy issues: "Especially the left, they have totally given up on their ideals. They cannot come up with anything more than symbolic policies, while pursuing an outright callous liberal economic agenda. We are part of a bigger movement, which is gathering momentum everywhere in Europe. We see the Five Star Movement in Italy as a forerunner for our cause." 

 

"It is time for a huge renovation of our economic system:  regulation of big companies and a curbing of the corporate lobby organizations that write our laws. ST3M wants to do it better and we will do it together with the grassroots activists of Amsterdam.”

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