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PRESS RELEASE – New network of researchers exposes tactics that delay effective climate policy

Netherlands, July 2 Today marks the launch of the research network Climate Obstruction NL. Climate obstruction refers to the obstacles hindering effective climate policy and action. Examples include spreading disinformation, greenwashing, delaying policies, and influencing public debate and politics. Climate obstruction is one of the reasons why the affluent Netherlands lags in implementing effective climate policy. It is also one of the reasons that a new cabinet is sworn in today with representatives of political parties that spread climate disinformation and protect polluting industries.

The coalition agreement of PVV, VVD, NSC, and BBB lacks sufficient climate ambitions. The agreement includes increasing gas extraction in the North Sea, supporting hydrogen production based on natural gas, rolling back a CO2 tax, and postponing the abolition of forty billion euros in fossil subsidies. Additionally, the agreement promises that Dutch regulations will not be stricter than those of the EU. This happens despite the scientific consensus that climate change leads to a global catastrophe, primarily affecting poorer parts of the world, while richer parts, including the Netherlands, have a much larger CO2 footprint.

Deliberate obstruction and delay of climate policy

This lack of ambitious measures to drastically reduce the Netherlands’ greenhouse gas emissions is partly the result of a long series of attempts by organizations with interests in oil and gas production to undermine Dutch climate policy. Since climate change became a political issue in the late 1980s, climate policy has been deliberately obstructed and delayed by companies and organizations such as Shell, KLM, and VNO-NCW. For example, organizations with interests in oil and gas production have contributed to widespread media dissemination of ‘discourses of climate delay’, such as denying the human role in climate change, ‘Whataboutism’ (‘our impact is negligible compared to China’), and technological optimism (‘innovation will save us’).

Alexander Beunder, affiliated with Platform for Authentic Journalism, which revealed Shell and other companies’ funding of climate deniers: “Ever since climate change appeared on the political agenda, there has been an opposition movement trying to remove it. The democratic response is to have as transparent a climate debate as possible, which requires researchers and journalists to point out when that debate is influenced by powerful interest groups or unscientific disinformation. The need for this was recently urged by the United Nations, who warned that the growth of disinformation on various topics, including climate change, undermines democratic decision-making and human rights.”

Formalizing the research theme ‘Climate Obstruction’

There is currently no coordinated research tradition on climate obstruction in the Netherlands. Investigative journalists and NGOs have done some research, but it is fragmented, partly informal, and low-budget. This research needs to be conducted on a much larger scale to have an impact and make insights from this research more visible to the general public. Therefore, Associate Professor Martijn Duineveld, investigative journalist Alexander Beunder, and researcher Linda Knoester have initiated Climate Obstruction NL. The network aims to promote knowledge exchange and research collaboration on various forms of climate obstruction and their effects on politics, governance, and society.

Martijn Duineveld, co-author of the book chapter “Climate Obstruction in the Netherlands: Strategic and systemic obstruction of Dutch climate policies (1980-present)“: “I hope this network can contribute to formalizing this research theme within universities and other research institutions. I also hope it helps to more fully map out the strategies and tactics used by the oil and gas industry, the agro-industry, and other climate obstructers to hinder effective climate action.”

Collaboration among researchers from different sectors

Climate Obstruction NL currently has 35 members (24 academics, 8 NGO researchers, and 3 journalists). They study the obstacles to effective climate mitigation from various perspectives, including the role of lobbying practices, the spread of disinformation, and influencing public and scientific debate. The website,, provides an overview of the various researchers and their work and serves as a contact and information point for stakeholders such as policymakers and the media. Climate Obstruction NL is affiliated with the Climate Social Science Network (CSSN), a global network focused on academic research on climate obstruction, based at Brown University in the United States. What makes the Dutch network unique is the collaboration between researchers from different sectors (academia, journalism, and NGO), each with their own roles, expertise, interests, and ways of working. During a conference on October 24 and 25, 2024, they will discuss how best to collaborate.

Linda Knoester, co-founder of Solid Sustainability Research, the NGO that maintains a database of the ties between Dutch universities and the fossil industry: “We are open to working with anyone, as long as it does not conflict with the values, goals, and independence of the network. This also means that the network members explicitly do not collaborate with, or accept money from, organizations with opposing goals and interests, such as parties with direct interests in fossil fuels. We prefer to make them the subject of research.” The collaboration and exclusion policy can be read on the website: Researchers can join the network through a form on the website.


Duineveld, M., Dix, G., Plets, GJ, Huzier, V. ‘Climate Obstruction in the Netherlands: Strategic and systemic obstruction of Dutch climate policies (1980-present)’ in R. Brulle, J. T. Roberts, Spencer, M. (Eds.) ‘Climate Obstruction in Europe’, Oxford University Press.