Paulo Coelho once said that “A child can teach an adult three things: to be happy for no reason, to always be busy with something, and to know how to demand with all his might that which he desires.” And this is exactly what they are doing since the past 4 weeks in Belgium. Tens of thousands of children have skipped school to join protests demanding tougher action against climate change.
Around 30,000 students turned out in three Belgium cities, Brussels, Liège, and Leuven, the biggest number being in the eastern city of Liège. Youth demonstrations have also taken place in Switzerland and Germany. A group of grandparents has also joined the primary and secondary school children in Brussels.
What are the protests all about?
When asked about his purpose, 12-year-old Isidore Vlassenroot expresses his disappointment for the lack of climate policy in Belgium. Despite having four ministers there is no clear policy for climate change and he wants his voice heard for a better planet.
Isidore’s father, Koen Vlassenroot is in full support of his son, despite him skipping school. He’s glad his son is a part of a unique moment in Belgian history and is proud of Isidore being conscious of climate change challenges.
All over the country, people are marching to get the attention of the politicians to change their policy about climate change. They believe this mass protest will bring a difference, not only in Belgium but all over the world.
They want world leaders to stick to the ambitious goals made in the Paris agreement.
Different cities, different agenda.
Germany’s coal commission has recommended shutting down all coal-fired power stations by 2038. The country has committed itself to phase out nuclear power by 2022.
Belgium has increased its reliance on imported energy due to aging nuclear power stations at two sites near Antwerp and Liège.
Bart De Wever, leading Flemish politician, in his reaction to the Brussel’s march urged children to “not to believe in the apocalypse” but to have “confidence in the future and in the power of innovation”.