XR Belgium posts deepfake of Belgian premier linking Covid-19 with climate crisis

XR Belgium posts deepfake of Belgian premier linking Covid-19 with climate crisis
In a deepfake video generated by Extinction Rebellion Belgium, the Belgian premier is made to say immediate action is necessary to tackle the climate and environmental crises. Credit: Extinction Rebellion Belgium/Facebook

A deepfake video showing Belgium's prime minister speaking of an urgent need to tackle the economic and climate crises has been put into circulation by Extinction Rebellion Belgium.

Published on Tuesday, the video is a modification of a previous address to the nation given by Premier Shophie Wilmès about the coronavirus pandemic.

"Coronavirus is an alarm bell we cannot ignore," Wilmès is made to say in the video. "Pandemics are one of the consequences of a deeper ecological crisis."

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The fictional speech goes on to say that the most recent global epidemics, like SARS, Ebola, the Swine Flu and now Covid-19 are directly linked to the "exploitation and destruction by humans of our natural environment."

The video, in which the use machine learning and artificial technology to reproduce Wilmès' voice and likeness, is based of the full speech posted online which draws from dozens of scientific publications about the impacts that unbridled global warming could have on life on Earth.


"We have failed as policymakers to grasp the seriousness of the ecological collapse. But today, the coronavirus crisis is making us aware of the depth of change required of us: we must change our way of life, and we must change it now," the speech reads.

The deepfake video comes amid efforts from the climate action group to keep the pressure high on leaders even amid the nationwide lockdown imposed by the current pandemic.

As part of an initiative dubbed "Rebellion on Lockdown" the group is planning to continue campaigning online until they are allowed to return to the streets again.

According to the Belga news agency, the video was sent to the cabinet of the prime minister as well as to the offices of the minister-presidents of Brussels, Wallonia and Flanders.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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