European NGOs urge Belgium to cut support for polluting industries

In an open letter, more than seventy Belgian and European NGOs call on political leaders to stop granting "privileged access" to industries "known for the harmfulness of their products and practices". The demand comes ahead of Tuesday's summit in Antwerp between the CEOs of major industrial groups, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and prime minister Alexander De Croo.

In the letter to De Croo, organisations including Klimaatcoalitie, Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Europe, Foodwatch International and Greenpeace express their regret about the Antwerp meeting. They call it an 'insult' to communities and regions facing industrial pollution.

Consistent irresponsibility

The organisations point to the "consistent irresponsibility" of industrial decision-making in recent decades, which has led to numerous environmental crises by using dangerous substances and burning fossil fuels to pursue profit. According to the NGOs, Belgium is denying this contribution and the responsibility of companies by organising the meeting at the chemical company BASF in Antwerp.

The NGOs also criticise the lobbying campaigns of multinational chemical companies "to undermine the ambitious regulations promised by the European Commission". These regulations mainly aim to limit dangerous substances used by consumers and in agriculture.

Massive support

"Meanwhile, the industry has received massive support for both the development of new fossil fuel infrastructure and the deployment of false solutions to the climate crisis, such as hydrogen, carbon capture and offsetting," the signatories say.

The NGOs call on the prime minister and all political leaders to stop giving "privileged access" to industries "known for the harmfulness of their products and practices". They want priority to be given to protecting citizens and ecosystems from pollution.


#FlandersNewsService | People hold banners as they participate during an action of Extinction Rebellion to demand an end to fossil fuels, in Brussels, Sunday 28 January 2024. © BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK

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