Het is nog maar de vraag of Nederland uiteindelijk als land niet de dupe zal worden van de grote klimaatveranderingen, die nu plaatsvinden. De Europese Unie is één van de regio’s die de levenshouding als eerste moet aanpassen, omdat slechts zeven procent van de wereldbevolking meer dan zeventien procent van de voorraden verbruikt.
Ir. Kees Nieuwerth (Quaker), namens een aantal kleine kerken lid van het moderamen van de Raad van Kerken, geeft dit commentaar bij de klimaatverandering in een uitgave die wereldwijd wordt verspreid. Tijdens de grote demonstratie in New York op 21 september j.l. om de VN tot verdere actie rond klimaatverandering aan te zetten heeft het Quaker United Nations Office een klein boekje aan de VN aangeboden getiteld ‘Call to Conscience’. Quakers uit de hele wereld leveren daarin een analyse waaruit de betrokkenheid blijkt bij het thema van duurzaamheid. Kees Nieuwerth heeft daaraan een bijdrage geleverd. Hieronder is de Engelstalige tekst opgenomen die gaat over Kees Nieuwerths benadering.
Kees has worked as a nature conservation planner in the Netherlands, and on urban and rural development in several African countries. He traces his passion for environmental issues to his childhood. “As a boy I asked my father ‘Are there birds and butterflies in heaven?’ He said: ‘No, I do not think so’. I responded: ‘Then I do not want to go there!’”
“A few years after I was born,” Kees says, “the Netherlands was struck by an immense flood. Lots of people and animals died in the aftermath. The Netherlands may have the technological capacity to protect itself from another such flood, although I doubt technology will protect us from the sea level rise predicted when climate change is not combated! Even then, nations such as Bangladesh or islands in the Pacific do not have the Netherlands’ resources.”
Kees sees a close connection among Quaker concerns for truth, peace, equality, simplicity and sustainability. From the 1990’s he developed a concern about the ways unsustainable development and competition for scarce resources can contribute to armed conflict. “So my activities shifted to advocating sustainable development, amongst Friends and amongst churches.”
“I joined an ecumenical working group on ecology and economy which entered into dialogue with the European Institutions on EU policies. Power has shifted to impersonal global markets, international financial institutions and transnational corporations. It tends to increase inequalities within and between nations. It could be considered a new form of domination which continues five hundred years of colonialist oppression. Whilst the EU population is only seven percent of the world population we are using more than seventeen percent of its natural resources. Since this is a system of our own making, transformation is not only possible, but indispensable. Transnational companies need to be controlled by global institutions. A global governance is needed, integrating the social and environmental dimensions fully into economic policies.”
While Kees talks about the need for transformative leadership at the global level, he also finds satisfaction in doing as much as possible to green his own life and household. “I use the excellent public transport system in the Netherlands. However, when travelling to international gatherings (to advocate sustainability and peace), I cannot but travel by air. I compensate the carbon dioxide emissions by planting trees in Kenya through a project I helped initiate, Trees for Africa. At home we use solar energy to heat water and generate some of our electricity, installed a heat recovery unit in the kitchen and bathroom, mainly eat biological food, some of which we produce in our own garden.”
Kees finds climate change skepticism a continuing challenge in his work to engage others on peace and sustainability. But he takes encouragement from seeing these being better connected in Quaker thinking, and taken up in the work programme of the World Council of Churches. And “being blessed with grandchildren I see that my children share these concerns.”