As student climate protesters gather in Brussels today for their fourth protest against the lack of government action on climate change, they have received support from Academia. Yesterday more than 3,400 academics from across the country published an open letter to the federal and regional governments, backing the call from school and university students – and most recently from around 70,000 members of the public demonstrating last Sunday – for better and more rapid government action to mitigate the effects of climate change.
“As scientists, and on the basis of scientific facts we declare: the climate activists are right!”
The attention focussed on the issue by the demonstrations is “important,” said biologist Sara Vicca of Antwerp university. “Unfortunately the debate is often approached ideologically and you get discussions about doom-saying and suchlike” – a clear reference to a barrage of criticism of the students from leading figures in N-VA, including Bart De Wever, who raised the matter of doom-saying, parliament speaker Siegfried Bracke and a scathing tweet from former migration minister Theo Francken.
“These discussions distract from the essential question, which is the way to deal with the problem,” Vicca said.
The 3,400 scientists include the rectors of all five Flemish universities, and a list of signatories calling themselves Scientists4Climate which includes academics from a wide range of disciplines. “The solution to climate change requires the input from scientists from many disciplines,” the letter states. “As an individual you can already make an impact by eating less meat and reducing air travel, but more than this, it is now the time to take far-reaching, structural measures to quickly and drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees, and preferably to 1.5 degrees. Only in this way can we prevent climate change that fundamentally alters the environment on which our lives and societies depend. The idea that climate change will strongly change our world is not doom-saying, but is based on hard facts.”