Students from schools in Flanders are due to travel to Brussels again today to demonstrate for better government policy to battle climate change. Last week they numbered around 3,000; this week the numbers may even be larger, despite the weather, as the Flemish students will be joined by their contemporaries from the French-speaking school system.
The students are calling on governments to produce a clear, comprehensive and above all effective set of policies to tackle climate change. They have promised to keep on demonstrating until their objectives have been achieved.
Not only the participants but also the organisation has changed. Since the last demonstration a week ago, a crowdfunding has raised money for a sound system for speeches. Also, to ease the pressure on the two original organisers, 12 representatives across Flanders have been nominated. In preparation for today’s march, organisers met with police from the Brussels-Ixelles zone to decide on a route.
Another difference: last week school authorities were warning that truancy, even with the noblest of motives, was in breach of both school regulations and the law – children and young people are obliged to attend school until the age of 18.
This week, some schools have given students permission to take part in the march, as long as they can prove their presence with a selfie.
Yesterday, a delegation of young people was received by two ministers of the Flemish government – deputy minister-president Liesbeth Homans and environment minister Joke Schauvliege. Later they spoke of a “fruitful discussion” which would certainly be followed up. March organiser Anuna De Wever, part of the delegation, made it clear “Tomorrow we will still be marching for the climate in Brussels.”
Police have warned of possible traffic disruption today. The demonstration begins at Central station with speeches, then departs via Mont des Arts to Place Royale, Trone, Luxembourg, Madou, Rue Royale and back to the Central station, where the students are expected to disperse.