Belgian youth asked to skip school for Friday’s climate strike

Belgian youth asked to skip school for Friday’s climate strike
Youth for Climate members getting ready to leave Gare du Nord during the last protest in 2019. Credit: Evie McCullough/The Brussels Times.

Young people in Belgium have been called on by the climate movement Youth for Climate to once again skip school and take to the streets during the Global Climate Strike on Friday 22 October.

For the first time since 2019, when School Strike for Climate became globally recognised, thousands of young people across the world are expected to take part in Fridays For Future marches to continue putting pressure on governments ahead of the COP 26 in Glasgow taking place at the end of this month.

After the success of 10 October, when 50,000 of us marched through the streets of Brussels, we want to give young people the chance to make their voices heard again,” climate activist Anuna De Wever said.

“We see that the pressure we exert is slowly getting things moving, but much more needs to be done and the pace needs to be stepped up if we want to provide a livable future for the next generations and prevent further victims of climate change.”

Pupils and students in Ghent and Louvain-La-Neuve specifically have been called on to take action this Friday by playing truant once again.


The Tweet reads: “CLIMATE STRIKE ALERT! Yes, on Friday 22/10 we will do it again with young people all over the world during this edition of the Global Climate Strike.”

Students across the world started to skip Friday classes to participate in demonstrations, asking political leaders to take action to prevent climate change after Swedish activist Greta Thunberg staged a protest in August 2018 outside the Swedish Riksdag (parliament) with a sign that read “Skolstrejk för klimatet” (“School strike for climate”).

In its statement about Friday’s action, the youth climate movement pointed to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report published this summer which was a “code red” for humanity, a warning that unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to close to 1.5°C or even 2°C will be beyond reach.

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“We do daily efforts to fight climate change on our scale. But the timing doesn’t allow us to fight alone, all by ourselves. It is time for the big companies to follow the example and for governments to take their responsibilities,” the statement read.

Meanwhile, the Flemish education minister Ben Weyts has spoken out against the protests taking place during school hours.

“Enough teaching time has already been lost during the corona crisis. One of the lessons of coronavirus crisis is that less teaching time is at the expense of the most vulnerable pupils,” he told Belga news agency.


The protests will take place just over a week before the start of the United Nations climate summit (COP26) climate conference in Glasgow, taking place from 1 to 12 November, which will be attended by nine young people from Youth for Climate to put pressure on the negotiations.

De Wever, alongside French-speaking Belgian activist Adelaide Charlier and Minister of Climate, Environment, Sustainable Development and Green Deal Zakia Khattabi will be travelling from Amsterdam by train as part of the “Rail to the COP” initiative, announced on Sunday.

Organised by the youth group Youth for Sustainable Travel in cooperation with the Dutch railway manager ProRail, railway company NS and Eurostar, the train will travel from Amsterdam via Rotterdam, Brussels and London to reach Glasgow ahead of the summit’s start.

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