About 60 European students from the Youth for Climate movement, many of them Belgians, attended a debate on climate change at a plenary session of the European Parliament, seated in the gallery. They were in Strasbourg at the invitation of the Socialists and Democrats (S&D), Greens/European Free Alliance (Greens/ALE) and Confederated Group of the United European Left (GUE) groups. The other groups in the European Parliament declined to join in issuing that invitation.
After a very short debate in the almost empty Hemicycle, the youths chanted their slogan calling for immediate action on behalf of the global climate. The young activists from 20 countries, all aged between 10 and 26, did not hide their disappointment at the poor attendance by the MEPs. They were also not impressed by the content of the discussions.
“Most of the political groups are unable to grasp the seriousness of climate change,” stressed one of the youths. “They are still focussing on economic aspects and not on the threats to our survival.”
The group also deplored interventions which, they said, were meant above all to please them but were unaccompanied by any commitments to concrete action. “Inviting us here only to listen to the politicians and see them smile will take us nowhere,” said Belgium’s Anuna De Wever, who regretted the fact that the young people were not given a chance to address the meeting directly.
“We, the youth, do not accept the current state of climate policy; we need clear changes,” said Adélaïde Charlier, from Namur, adding that the youths would continue to skip classes to press their demands as long as “the world is not on track to limit the rise in temperatures to 1.5°” – one of the targets set by the Paris agreements on climate change.
The young people, none of whom travelled by plane to Strasbourg, said they had had intense discussions in the past few days to plan their next actions.
They also insisted that they were apolitical. “We’re here to express our opinion, not to support anyone whatsoever or to do propaganda,” they stressed.