Thousands of Belgian students skipped classes for the fourth week in a row on Thursday, 31 January 2019, to protest against global warming. Photo: Yves Herman / REUTERS

1 February 2019 (Euronews) – The streets of Brussels were buzzing on Thursday as thousands of Belgian teens marched for the fourth week in a row, demanding more extreme measures be taken to combat climate change.

This week the young protesters were joined by youths demonstrating in Liège and Leuven with a combined total of more than 30,000 participating in the movement.

In addition to turning out each week in mass quantities, these young Belgians are taking individual measures to battle climate change. Many eat locally sourced foods, commute via bicycle, or maintain vegetarian diets to reduce harmful emissions.

On Thursday, 3,400 Belgian scientists signed a letter urging authorities to make “far-reaching, structural measures to quickly and drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” By immediately taking action and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 25%, these scientists say global warming can be contained to a rise of 2°C.

The young people who march in the streets of these Belgian cities will be more directly affected by the detrimental effects of climate change than older generations. By taking action now, they are attempting to salvage their own futures.

The sea of protesters carried colourful posters that have been a signature of the recent demonstrations. A large banner carried by two demonstrators read "save our planet, save our future."

Youth climate change protests spread through Belgium in fourth week


Anuna De Wever poses as Belgian students protest for urgent measures to combat climate change during a demonstration in central Brussels, Belgium, on 31 January 2019. Photo: Yves Herman / REUTERS

By Clare Roth
31 January 2019

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Thousands of Belgian students skipped classes for the fourth week in a row on Thursday to protest against global warming, part of a growing youth protest around the world.

Beating drums, chanting and carrying signs, some 30,000 teenagers braved the cold in Brussels and other cities to call on local politicians for stronger action to prevent climate change.

“It’s our planet and the generation before us hasn’t done anything,” said Julian Rume, 17. “In 20, 30 years, we will all be migrants, we’ll all be moved out of our planet.”

The demonstrations are part of a broader grassroots movement started by Swedish student Greta Thunberg, 16, last year.

Students in Germany, Switzerland, France and Australia have followed her lead and also skipped classes to protest.

Thunberg took her protest to this month’s World Economic Forum in Davos to galvanize leaders meeting there to action.

While Thursday’s march in Brussels drew fewer people than last week, demonstrations spread to other cities, with some 15,000 students in the streets of Liege, according to police.

“The climate is a disaster,” said demonstrator Allison Debonte, 15, adding that she fears her children will not be able to live in Brussels due to climate change.

One student held a sign saying: “It’s you who decided … it’s us who will suffer.”

The student demonstrations have been supported by many political figures and personalities including Belgium’s King Phillipe. They are part of rolling protests urging greater action in recent weeks, as extreme temperatures fuel concerns that climate change is gathering pace.

On Sunday, two months since the first demonstration, some 70,000 people rallied in Brussels. Organizers are urging European leaders to adopt ambitious climate policies in line with goals set by the Paris agreement in 2015. [more]

Belgian student climate protests snowball

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