The rain and the wind made it difficult, but the second major demonstration against climate change, convened this Sunday in Brussels by the organization Rise for Climate, has surpassed the massive march of early December. According to police figures, some 70,000 people – five thousand more than at that time – have toured the streets of the Belgian capital to ask the political class to comply with the commitments made in Paris to stop the deterioration of the planet.
The mobilization started from the North Station, where numerous assistants from all over the country arrived, and ended up in front of the European Parliament. In parallel, a group of several hundred activists concentrated in the neighborhood of the European neighborhood and cut the street where the main community institutions are located – with hardly any activity because it is Sunday -, in the midst of shouts demanding political leaders more forceful against polluting emissions. Almost all of them headed for the European Parliament soon after to join the main march, but police arrested 16 people who refused to end the blockade of the street.
Under the umbrellas, the human river advanced without incident. "It's my first manifestation," explained a 13-year-old girl as she walked with her mother and a friend her age. The Belgian environmental movement has been nourished by social networks to broaden its base and gain traction among the youngest. The Brussels march has been a clear example of intergenerational meeting. The kind and peaceful nature of the demonstrations and allusions to the future of the planet have turned these acts into a congregation of parents with small children, adolescents, adults and the elderly, all represented in a fairly similar proportion.
The great impulse has arrived in the last weeks from an unlikely place. The institutes On January 10, 3,000 students left the classrooms and went out to ask for a more ambitious climate policy. And the flame spread. The next Thursday were 10,000. And a week later, 35,000. The student strike every Thursday has thus become a habit whose end is still unknown.
Victor Crokart, boyscout of 15 years, was on the march last Thursday and repeated this Sunday. "I've come for the world of tomorrow, because of the rise in sea level," he says. Beside him, Thomas de Kayser, of the same age, anticipates that student strikes will last until things change. "The problems come from adults and they do not do enough to change things," he says.
"Humanity faces its greatest existential challenge, our actions will multiply, radicalism is a necessity today," the organizers said at the end of the ceremony.
In Belgium, as in other countries of the old continent such as Germany or Switzerland, the example of the young Greta Thunberg, who at the age of 16 has become a student symbol against climate change and a well-known international activist, is catching on. Thunberg participated in the last climate summit of the UN, held in Katowice (Poland), and also in the conference in Davos (Switzerland).
Thunberg has inspired the strikes and student demonstrations that are taking place in many cities around the world every week to urge governments to fight against climate change. Since August, this young woman protests every Friday in front of the Swedish Parliament with a banner: "school strike for climate change".