Greenpeace protest brings 'fire and smoke' to EU Council summit

Greenpeace protest brings 'fire and smoke' to EU Council summit
Protesters arrived in a fire engine, blocking nearby traffic tunnels. Credit: Greenpeace Belgium/Twitter

Over 50 Greenpeace protesters stormed the EU Council building, climbing up scaffolding and displaying banners in a surprise protest which comes as EU leaders are set to meet for a climate summit on Thursday.

The environmental group announced the stunt shortly after 6:00 AM on Thursday, posting photos of a large group of activists, equipped with bright helmets and jackets, as they prepared to go up the building.

"Something's coming," the group said in a tweet, demanding EU leaders "act now" alongside the hashtag: #HouseOnFire.

Greenpeace used a fire engine, which was meant to help activists climb the Europa building but also to send a symbolic message of urgency to politicians.

"61 activists arrived in a fire engine to symbolically bring fire and some smoke to the EU summit venue to say this is #ClimateEmergency — Act NOW!" Greenpeace Belgium tweeted.

The protest brought disruption to traffic driving in or towards the area, with Bruxelles Mobilité noting that, because Greenpeace had blocked the nearby entrance to the Tunnel du Cinquantenaire, the mobility agency had had to close "all tunnels in the direction of the centre, from Tervueren until Cinquantenaire.

The protest, which lasted until around 8:30 AM, saw the activists walk in scaffolding around the building, displaying banners in different languages with messages like "Climate Delayers Inside" or "Climate Emergency, Act Now."

Police were called to the site of the protest, which had not been announced, and made protesters identify themselves but carried out no arrests, according to BX1.

EU leaders are set to meet for a two-day summit from Thursday, which will be the first one chaired by former Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel in his new role as Council President.

The summit takes place one day after the EU executive unveiled its European Green Deal, the bloc's climate strategy, which Greenpeace said was "ambitious" but "not enough."

"Heads of state and government meeting today in Brussels are meant to discuss climate objectives for 2050," Greenpeace representative Joeri Thijs told BX1. "But, by that time, they will be long gone. We can't let them get away with these kinds of vague promises about a distant future."

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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