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Resistance against Rotterdam and Amsterdam fossil fuel ports, the Netherlands

Amsterdam and Rotterdam are the two largest petroleum and coal harbours of Europe. Coal boats arrive from Colombia, USA, South Africa and Russia with 70% of the coal heading to Germany. Large protest camps have taken place in the last years.


Amsterdam and Rotterdam are the two largest petroleum and coal harbours of Europe. Coal boats arrive from Colombia, USA, South Africa and Russia with 70% of the coal heading to Germany. Crude oil is imported from Russia, Norway, Saudi Arabia, U.K. and Nigeria, among other places. Via their exports of refined petroleum from the ports of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, companies such as the Dutch Vitol, the largest gasoline trader in the world, are responsible are systematically dumping toxins on West-African countries. Pollutants are wilfully added to gasoline and diesel up to levels that exceed European standards by three hundred times. Combustion of these fuels--commonly referred to by traders as 'African quality'--can lead to severe health problems and even premature death. Local activists say that the Netherlands may have a green reputation for its cycling infrastructure and progressive image, but this is obscuring the country's role in Europe’s fossil fuel economy. “Because of the bicycle lanes, you don’t see the coal ports any more.” While Rotterdam can considered the big fish, resistance has focused on Amsterdam so far due to strategic and logistical considerations. This is also where local activists experimented with the first two editions of the Climate Games in 2014 and 2015. As well as a series of occupations and blockades happening, targeting the NUON/Vattenfall coal fired power station in 2015, the coal port in 2016 and in 2017 the 'dirty diesel' terminal owned by Vitol, the largest independent gasoline trader in the world. Amsterdam Fossil Free is also running a campaign since beginning 2015 that includes demands for a fossil fuel free harbour. As a result of this pressure, the broader discussion around the use of coal in the Netherlands, as well as the influence of the Energiewende in Germany, the port of Amsterdam issued a declaration in March 2017 that coal will be phased out from the port by the year 2030. Activists welcomed the mile stone decision as a step in the right direction, while pointing out that much faster action is required to avoid escalating climate change. In 2017, a new and broad coalition of climate activists called 'Code Rood' (Code Red) called for mass civil disobedience against the fossil fuel industry in the port of Amsterdam. A a climate camp was organised from 22 to 26 June and a mass civil disobedience action took place on June 24th. Some 300 people from the Netherlands, supported by groups coming from Belgium, Britain, Germany, France, Denmark and Sweden occupied Europe's second largest coal port, shutting down all operations for one day, making it the largest civil disobedience action in Dutch history. 

Basic Data
Name of conflict:Resistance against Rotterdam and Amsterdam fossil fuel ports, the Netherlands
Location of conflict:Amsterdam and Rotterdam
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Coal extraction and processing
Thermal power plants
Ports and airport projects
Specific commodities:Crude oil
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Type of populationUrban
Company names or state enterprises:NUON from Netherlands
Vitol from Netherlands
OBA bulk terminal from Netherlands
Rietlanden Terminals from Netherlands
Port of Amsterdam from Netherlands
Engie (ENGIE) from France - Engie owns an 800 MW coal fired power station in the port of Rotterdam. The CO2 emission of this power station in 2016 was 3,1 million ton.
Uniper (Uniper) from Germany - Uniper owns and operates the MPP3 power station in the port of Rotterdam, which consists of two units of 550MW.
EMO bv from Netherlands
Port of Rotterdam from Netherlands
Relevant government actors:Amsterdam municipality
Rotterdam municipality
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Code Rood
Amsterdam Fossielvrij
Wij Stoppen Steenkool
Climate Games
Climate Justice Amsterdam
Rotterdams Klimaat Initiatief
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Development of a network/collective action
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Global warming, Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Strengthening of participation
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Beyond the Red Lines

From the lignite mines in the Rhineland to the port of Amsterdam or the streets of Paris during the World Climate Summit, the struggles for climate justice are fought at more and more fronts. Beyond the red lines is the story of a growing movement that says “Enough! Here and no further!” and commits civil disobedience taking the transition towards a climate just society into its own hands.
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"Schone Schijn, Vieze Handen - Fossiele Haven Amsterdam in aanvaring met mondiaal CO2 budget"

Report by Fossil Free NL on the sustainability policy of Amsterdam, with a focus on the lack of targets to phase out fossil fuels from the port of Amsterdam.
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News article: activists occupy Vitol oil terminal in port of Amsterdam
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Code Rood
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Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Report by video collective Unicorn Riot on the mass blockade of the coal terminal of Amsterdam that Code Rood (Code Red) organised on June 24 2017.
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Video report on day 1 of the climate camp that Code Rood (Code Red) organised in the port of Amsterdam from June 22 to June 25 2017.
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Mobilisation video for the June 24 2017 mass civil disobedience action against fossil fuels in the port of Amsterdam
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Climate Games Amsterdam | 2014
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Pictures of mass blockade of the coal terminal at the port of Amsterdam | 24 June 2017:
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Pictures of the Vitol oil terminal occupation by Climate Justice Amsterdam | April 2017
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Wij Stoppen Steenkool blockade of the coal Port of Amsterdam | 24 juni 2016
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Climate Games + Climate and agriculture camp at port of Amsterdam | 2015
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Mobilisation video for the June 24 mass civil disobedience action by Code Rood (Code Red).
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Official video report on the mass blockade of the coal terminal of Amsterdam that Code Rood (Code Red) organised on June 24 2017.
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Contributor:Code Rood [email protected]
Last update18/08/2019
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