GroenLinks-PvdA party leader Frans Timmermans gestures during an interview as part of party leaders interviews of the Dutch regional newspaper Tubantia, in Enschede, The Netherlands, 08 November 2023. EPA-EFE/SEM VAN DER WAL


Greta Thunberg’s doing climate change fight no favours, says Timmermans


Former Brussels climate commissioner Frans Timmermans is frustrated about climate activist Greta Thunberg’s turn to radical politics, he says.

Timmermans, also a former Dutch foreign minister, stood down as the EU’s climate supremo in August to contest the Netherlands’s November 22 elections. He heads a Green-Labour alliance and hopes to be prime minister.

He is “very sorry” Thunberg brought the Israel-Hamas war into Sunday’s climate march in Amsterdam.

“That’s the opposite of what we need”, he tells a Dutch television last night.

“I would really like it if everyone cared about the climate and not just one side of the political spectrum”, Timmermans says.

Thunberg’s pro-Palestinian advocacy added a “needless political controversy” into the demonstration, he says.

He is not convinced Thunberg should still serve as the climate movement’s face, Timmermans said.

Sunday’s march, with 85,000 participants, was the country’s biggest climate march ever.

Before Thunberg spoke, a Palestinian woman named Sarah began singing “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”.

Some perceive the slogan as anti-Semitic. Its use has been increasingly common in the last month, which has featured both the Israel-Hamas war and a 7 October terrorist attack in Brussels.

The organisers cut off the woman’s microphone, causing the crowd to boo.

Responding to the incident, Thunberg then said “as a climate justice movement, we have to listen to the voices of those who are being oppressed.”

There “can be no climate justice without international solidarity,” and “people in power have not been listening”, she added.

A man then walked on to the stage, took Thunberg’s microphone and said he had “come here for a climate demonstration and not a political view.”

This man was ushered off the stage, as Thunberg and a group of her followers began shouting “no climate justice on occupied land”, referring to the war in Israel.

Israeli officials have called Thunberg a “terror supporter” for her frequent pro-Palestinian messages online.

A cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war is “necessary” to alleviate suffering in Gaza, says Timmermans.

“If you look at it objectively, Israel’s current strategy is no longer viable,” he says.

He supports Israel’s efforts to eliminate Hamas, but “bombing does not destroy them either”, he argued.

Worldwide support for Israel is “crumbling” as a result of the bombardment of Gaza, he said.

Timmermans has faced criticism for his vocal support for Israel, especially from his Green alliance partners.