Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo got paid a visit from Saint-Nicholas on Monday, as the beloved holiday saint joined a delegation of climate campaigners seeking to “save” the Paris climate agreement.
Saint-Nicholas and members of the bilingual Climate Coalition (CC) arrived at the prime minister’s offices in Rue de la Loi to present him with over a hundred children’s letters.
The letters were collected as part of the coalition’s “Sinterklaas for Climate” campaign, launched on 20 November and which urged children to send the saint their wishes for the climate in the form of letters and drawings.
The visit on Monday morning concluded the coalition’s “Sinterklaas for Climate” campaign and came just days ahead of a key EU Council summit in Brussels.
“Belgium needs to choose the road of ambition in the upcoming EU Council on 10 and 11 December and in an international summit on 12 December,” CC President Nicolas Van Nuffel told Belgian media.
On 12 December, when a virtual Climate Ambition Summit is set to take place, Van Nuffel said that “only countries who have announced new goals will be able to speak.”
“There is still time. This means that Belgium needs to plead for a minimum reduction of 60% in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030,” he added.
BREAKING! Ce matin nous avons été reçu avec Saint Nicolas chez @alexanderdecroo ??
2h plus tard la BE soutient min 55% de réduction au niveau européen! C'est un grand pas en avant après 2 ans de mobilisations et de travail plaidoyer ✊ pic.twitter.com/8Ohd6EsWmp
— Coalition Climat – Klimaatcoalitie (@ClimateCoaliti1) December 7, 2020
The campaign is the latest in a string of pro-climate actions and protests by the coalition’s as they seek to keep the climate issue on the agenda, fearing it may get sidelined as politicians rush to help the economy spring back out of the pandemic.
“A few days before the European Summit, he reminded [De Croo] that Belgium and Europe can make their mark on international climate policy and save the Paris Agreement,” the group wrote on Facebook.
While the coalition was aiming to get Belgium to declare an emissions-reduction goal of 60%, just hours after their visit, the government announced they would support a 55% cut on CO2 emissions on a European level.
“It is a big step forward after two years of mobilisation and campaigning,” the CC wrote on Twitter, adding: “Even if it is not enough and even if we we were asking for minimum 60%.”
Last week, over a period of 60 hours, 60 activists associated with the CC succeeded each other in solo stake-outs outside the headquarters of Belgium’s federal and regional governments, in what they dubbed the “the longest climate demonstration in history.”
The Brussels Times