Together We Strike

Our demands

8 Demands for a Sustainable Maastricht

These demands have been drawn up in a collaborative effort between trade union FNV, Milieudefensie (FoeI), Extinction Rebellion, Fossil Free, Precious Plastic, KAN, Stop MAA, the International Socialists and Maastricht for Climate
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Free Public Transport

Netherlands has the most expensive public transport system in the EU. We need more public transport and we need it to be free.

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Clean Air for Us And Our Children

The city of Maastricht has one the dirtiest air in the country. We demand the implementation of a low emission zone for the city and its surroundings.

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Foster the Local

Maastricht needs to foster the local and circular economy, and encourage local initiatives.

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Sustainable Houses and Buildings

All houses and buildings need to be carbon neutral. This should not be at the cost of the people.

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Ban Single-Use Plastic

Maastricht needs to ban single-use plastic, and retrieve plastic from the Maas before it gets sent away.

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A Fair and Social Transition

Maastricht needs to create new climate jobs, and retrain those who will loose their job in the transition. The climate transition needs to be social or it shall not be.

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Inform and Involve Citizens

Maastricht needs to inform and involve its citizens in the crisis. Individuals must have the last word, not economic stakeholders.

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Phase Out Fossil Fuels

Maastricht needs to move away from fossil fuels and needs to ensure that the industry does the same.

In our highly interconnected world, transport has become of crucial importance. This comes with a high environmental cost: in 2017, 27% of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions came from the transport sector. These numbers need to be drastically reduced, and this can only be done through a fundamental improvement of the public transport system. We need more public transport and we need it to be free. We also call the municipality to stop investing in the expansion of the Maastricht Aachen airport and to use this money to fund the free public transportation plan.

Luxembourg has already implemented free public transport. It is only a matter of political will to follow suit. The current situation in the Netherlands is quite the opposite: we have the most expensive public transport system in Europe. Prices have risen since 2009 more steeply than in any other country.

In these circumstances, it is only logical that many people, especially those with a lower income, would rather keep using their car. They cannot afford some fancy electric car and will be deeply affected if oil prices and taxes are to be increased.

Hence, we are asking the municipality of Maastricht to both extend the range and frequency of their public transport system, and to make it free for the entire city and its surroundings. We need more bus stops, we need a better connection between the city center and the more rural areas, and we need public transport to be accessible for all social groups in Maastricht.

Next, we call the municipality to stop funding the expansion of the Maastricht Aachen Airport. The aviation industry accounts for 14% of all CO₂ emissions from the EU’s transport sector [1]. Yet it still receives substantial funding from governments. The Province of Limburg plans to spend 80 million euros on the MAA in the period 2014-2024, and the Municipality of Maastricht will contribute 2 million euros [4]. We demand the municipality to use their current investment in the airport to fund the free public transportation plan.

The beautiful sunsets of Maastricht hold a dark secret. Their bright colours are largely due to air pollution from cars, trucks, boats and airplanes which use the Maastricht region as their playground. At the same time, our children are no longer playing outside – so much public space has been dedicated to transport that our streets are no longer safe or healthy for them to explore. We demand the municipality to take stronger actions against air pollution.

Air pollution is also a national problem, and Maastricht has some of the dirtiest air in our country. National studies show that air pollution exposes Dutch children to 500,000 cases days of asthma issues and 12,400 cases of bronchitis. Adults are affected too, with over 1200 new cases of lung cancer, 6900 cases of chronic bronchitis and nearly 5000 emergency room visits due to acute coronary and respiratory issues. We can estimate that around 77 Maastricht citizens die thirteen months earlier each year due to air pollution exposure.

Our gemeente promised to be a frontrunner on air pollution, but they scrapped their plans and are now even delaying their support for less progressive national measures. We call on them to take action by introducing a car-free city centre and reducing the number of polluting cars and trucks in and around the city. Implementing a low emission zone will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and drastically help improve the air quality of our city.

We citizens of Maastricht have a right to healthy, clean air and a safe environment, and our children deserve to play outside again.

Hundreds of case studies demonstrate that locally managed resources are more sustainable and far less likely to be overexploited. There is no need to run our economy for distant investors and faceless corporations. Instead, we can focus on our local community while paying careful attention to local and global concerns.

The globalised economy is disrupting our climate, killing biodiversity, stimulating inequality and trapping us in overconsumption. We are told that it is good to maximise profits, competition, innovation and economic growth, but this has weakened our democracies and made it more difficult to act on escalating global crises. Many of us are tired from working long, uncertain hours for inadequate payment while contributing to an economy that is unsustainable and uncaring.

Fortunately, brave pioneers across the world are building better, more democratic, sustainable and inclusive local economies and public services [1]. Hundreds of case studies demonstrate that locally managed resources are more sustainable and far less likely to be overexploited. This approach generates meaningful jobs with better working conditions, fairer salaries and more stability. There is no need to run our economy for distant investors and faceless corporations. Instead, we can focus on our local community while paying careful attention to local and global concerns.

Focusing on the local economy is a proven path that we can use to redesign the economic foundation of our societies and enter a sustainable future. We therefore call on the municipality to foster the local and adopt a redefined approach to public services, promote generative ownership designs (cooperatives, local co-ownership, accountable public services), implement community wealth building policies (coordinate local, sustainable procurement policies with large institutions) and support recycling and a circular economy (research, subsidies for locally owned startups, public ownership). This way we can fight climate change, improve our working lives and be ready to help others when the time comes.

The municipality must put measures in place for all houses in Maastricht to be made carbon neutral, while ensuring that this transition doesn’t come at the cost of the people.

It is no longer acceptable that high profit companies are subsidised to make their processes climate-neutral while citizens have to pay from their own pocket the price of making their rent or house sustainable. The strongest shoulders have to bear the heaviest burden.

Homes should be made sustainable by, where necessary, insulating, installing solar panels and/or connecting to a heat network. New homes and buildings must be climate-neutral.

In order to achieve this, the municipality needs to compensate for those who cannot afford the transition. In this way, lower incomes and other vulnerable groups can also financially benefit from the energy transition.

This is a complex process not only because of the numbers but also because of the diversity of rental and owner-occupied dwellings and ownership in neighbourhoods. The municipality must therefore begin consultations with housing corporations and owners of homes and buildings as soon as possible. In addition, the municipality must set an example by ensuring that all municipal buildings are climate-neutral by 2030. Lastly, it must ensure that enough professionals are (re)trained to make buildings and homes climate-neutral.

Every day, the Maas spits 15 thousand pieces of plastic into the North Sea. Every year, one million seabirds and 100,000 other marine animals die worldwide from plastic pollution [1]. A river city like Maastricht has a responsibility to ensure that plastic and water are kept far apart. The European Union ruled that when alternatives are affordable, disposable plastic products must be kept out of the market. However, these products are still available everywhere in Maastricht. We demand the municipality of Maastricht to ban single-use plastic.

Plastic never breaks off completely. Microplastics are very harmful because they enter the food chain. For example, BPA (a dangerous substance found in plastic) is detectable in 92% of people and disturbs the action of hormones[2].

The European Union ruled that when alternatives are affordable, disposable plastic products must be kept out of the market. The ban will apply to plastic cotton buds, cutlery, plates, straws, stirring sticks and balloon sticks. Additionally, EU member states will have to collect 90% of one-way plastic drinks bottles (e.g. deposits) by 2025. However, these products are still available everywhere in Maastricht and there is no deposit on plastic bottles.

We demand the municipality of Maastricht to ban single-use plastic.

  • Because celebrating Carnival with plastic cups is no longer acceptable. The municipality should rather rely on innovative reusable cup systems.
  • Because plastic bags are still available on the market, and this at no extra cost. As a result, the Market looks like a landfill site.
  • Because straws can still be found in restaurants although there is barely any demand for them.
    Because cigarettes contain plastic but can be found everywhere on the ground.

Lastly, Many expats do not understand the Dutch recycling system and therefore do not separate their waste. The municipality should provide explanations during registration sessions. Stricter measures should also be taken when not separating waste.

It is absolutely necessary to ban single-use plastics in Maastricht. This step would not only lead to a clean city, but also to a reduced ecological footprint, less inflow of plastics into the sea and easier sorting.

We need a climate transition that is fair and social. We need to ensure that those who lose their job in the transition are re-trained, and benefit from the creation of a large number of climate jobs.

A lot of jobs must be created in the renewable energy sector, both in terms of energy production and adequate insulation of houses against increasing heat and cold. In addition, we also need extra jobs in a strengthened public transport system.

Some jobs in polluting industries will disappear if the energy transition is set in motion. We believe that no employee should be the victim of climate change. That is why the government must ensure that these employees are retrained thoroughly so that their job opportunities are increased. This implies that we also need many more teachers and trainers.

These processes can be funded by the fossil industry according to the principle: the polluter pays. The transition from coal to natural gas in the 1960s can serve as a model, when Shell, Esso, the State Mines and the government paid for the transition costs. We see an active role for the municipality of Maastricht to implement this model.

It is important that all these new jobs are a public service, because climate management is key and not the pursuit of profit. We must move away from neo-liberal market thinking.

We therefore advocate a fair transition to climate-proof employment.

Climate change is a threat to the quality of life of everyone before it is a threat to the wealth of some. Every individual must have a say in addressing the climate crisis. Individuals have the last word not economic stakeholders.

Be honest. Life as we know it is under threat and we have little time to implement drastic measures that will limit global warming to well below 2°C. We demand the municipality of Maastricht to publicly acknowledge the seriousness of the current situation.

Inform everyone. Only informed people can take informed decisions. Accepting and committing to the necessary changes requires everyone to understand and acknowledge the seriousness of the climate crisis. The municipality should increase their efforts to educate the people, adults and youngsters, about climate change and about the steps to take. They should also involve academics, experts and activists in spreading information and raising awareness – we can help; let us.

Involve everyone. Citizens have the right to know and guide the municipality’s agenda and discussions. People have the last word and must be given a chance to voice it and make decisions. To overcome the inability of our current political system to effectively enact change, the municipality should involve citizens in decision-making processes by creating citizens assemblies. These assemblies are constituted of randomly selected citizens representing a cross section of society. The assemblies are given balanced information from experts and stakeholder and after deliberation, vote on policy recommendations. This will allow the municipality to take decisions in the best interest of society and free from political power games.

The gemeente recognised in 2007 that Maastricht should be climate neutral by 2030. They failed to act on these plans, and have updated their policies so that now only the gemeente’s organisation will be climate neutral by 2050. Procrastination is not an acceptable approach to the fossil fuel transition. The gemeente should understand that we are weaker, not stronger, due to our reliance on fossil fuels.

Our economies are shackled to the production and consumption of fossil fuels. These energy sources are primarily responsible for climate change and make us dependent on unethical industries and corrupt foreign governments. A transition away from these energy sources is beneficial, necessary and urgent. The latest IPCC Report shows that we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 if we want to survive climate change with an adequate standard of living.

We therefore call on the gemeente to take an ambitious, leading position in the Regional Energy Strategy for South Limburg. Local companies need to be made carbon neutral, and we need to produce local, 100% renewable electricity for the whole gemeente as soon as possible. It is a victory, not a mistake, if we do this faster than the national government’s planning.

We also urge the gemeente to release clear information on the Maastricht Energy Agreements, and to ensure that these agreements are implemented and lead to effective emissions reductions. The gemeente should, moreover, put pressure on their ABP pension fund to divest from fossil fuels. Construction sites and delivery services in Maastricht should be supported in their transition to renewable electric power. Fossil-fuel intensive vehicles should be replaced, discouraged or forbidden as soon as possible. Various Dutch gemeentes are offering subsidies, for example, to replace polluting scooters with electric ones. We should follow their example.

Designs made by Kodie Chontos from Precious Plastic Maastricht. 

References

  1. Greenhouse gas emissions from transport in Europe
  2. Transport Statistics Europe
  3. Nergens in de EU stijgen ov-kosten zo hard als in Nederland
  4. http://www.stopgroeimaa.nl
  5. https://www.medicalfacts.nl/2017/12/13/169-longartsen-sturen-brandbrief-over-nederlandse-luchtkwaliteit-aan-tweede-kamer/
  6. Van Schayck, C. P., HOAERVORST, J., de Kok, T. M. C. M., Briedé, J. J., Wesseling, G., & Kleinjans, J. C. S. (2006). Relatie tussen de samenstelling van fijn stofin de lucht en de longfunctie van schoolkinderen. Nederlands tijdschrift voor geneeskunde, 150(13), 735-740.
  7. “De toekomst van elektrisch vrachtverkeer in de stad”, 17 februari 2020
  8. 169 longartsen sturen brandbrief over Nederlandse luchtkwaliteit aan Tweede Kamer, Redactie Medicalfacts/ Janine Budding, 13 december 2017
  9. Hoofdlijnenbrief Schone Lucht Akkoord, 2 juli 2019
  10. Schone Lucht Akkoord, gemeenteraad van Delft, 10 december 2019
  11. Effectberekingen Milieuzone Maastricht, Royal HaskoningDHV, Ronald Groen, November 2018
  12. Fijn stof, miniem maar dodelijk,Loek Kusiak
  13. Jaarraportage luchtkwaliteit 2018, 21 October 2019, gemeente Maastricht
  14. Spoorboekje verbeteren luchtkwaliteit en bereikbaarheid Maastricht, 20 september 2019/CONCEPT
  15. Milieuzone Maastricht Verkeerstudie, terrugkoppeling resultaten verkeersanalyse, Nordine Bouchiba, GrensPaal12
  16. Satoko Kishimoto, Lavinia Steinfort, Olivier Petitjean, Towards Democratic Ownership of Public Services, “The Future is Public Conference”, December 2019, https://bit.ly/2VG4LmV
  17. Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life
  18. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  19. Long-Term Field Measurement of Sorption of Organic Contaminants to Five Types of Plastic Pellets: Implications for Plastic Marine Debris. Chelsea M. Rochman, Eunha Hoh, Brian T. Hentschel, and Shawn Kay. Environmental Science & Technology 2013 47 (3), 1646-1654. DOI: 10.1021/es303700s
  20. Vrijwilligers onderzoeken plasticsoep in Maas (2018), rtvmaastricht.nl
  21. Geen plastic afval meer via rivieren naar zee (2018), schonerivieren.org
  22. Europese Commissie (2018)