Elderly Belgians have decided to throw their weight behind the weekly protests for an ambitious climate policy to keep the planet viable for future generations. The “Grootouders voor het klimaat” (Grandparents for the Climate) issued an open letter in Dutch on Monday calling on the generation of “grootouders” (grandparents) to accompany the students on Thursday.
The call comes as attendance at the protest scheduled for 11 April could suffer as a result of the Easter vacation.
The movement was originally launched by Flemish secondary students, who organised a first march in Brussels under the theme of ‘Spijbelen voor het klimaat’ (Skipping school for the climate) on Thursday 10 January. The leaders of this first student strike, Anuna De Wever and Kyra Gantois, both from Antwerp, were inspired by the weekly action by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, who has since become a patron of the climate cause.
By the following Thursday, 17 January, the movement had spread to Walloon students as well. Higher education students soon followed, with the generation of grandparents later adding their support.
Over the weeks, the mobilisation has been extremely uneven. Only some 500 people took part in the protest on 4 April in Brussels and about 100 in Antwerp, a far cry from the 30,000 to 35,000 that filled city streets across the country on 24 and 31 January, for example.
Meanwhile, delays in the debates on a proposed Climate Law and the rejection in Parliament of an amendment to Article 7bis of the Constitution caused evident disappointment among the young activists.
The grandparents noted on Monday that the young people “have kept up their actions for 13 weeks now” and are beginning to feel the strain, while many are “very disappointed” by the attitude of political leaders, which gives only little hope.
They urged grandparents to “support the courageous climate truants by coming with their young grandchildren” on Thursday around 10 a.m. at the Bruxelles-Nord station and “bear the message of Youth for Climate by joining the march for climate justice.”
Those whose grandchildren are unable to attend are encouraged to bring along a big photograph of them, the group added.