Greenpeace activists wrapped the EU Council building in images of fire and smoke on Thursday, in a striking protest meant to pile the pressure on EU leaders to tackle climate change more ambitiously.
The environmental group’s protest was targeting EU heads of state as they kicked off the first of a two-day summit in which discussions on the bloc’s long-term climate strategy were on the agenda.
The demonstration was set in motion before dawn break, with 61 activists arriving at the Council’s Europa building in the EU quarter at around 6:00 AM, equipped with bright helmets and jackets, ladders, protest signs — and a fire engine.
BREAKING: As European gov leaders meet in Brussels to discuss climate targets for 2050, 61 activists from @greenpeace_be arrived in a fire engine to *symbolically* bring fire and some smoke the EU summit venue to say this is a #ClimateEmergency – Act NOW!#HouseOnFire #EUCO pic.twitter.com/xpkseCYEJv
— Greenpeace (@Greenpeace) December 12, 2019
A total of 28 demonstrators proceeded to climb up the building using the fire engine and the ladders, with Greenpeace spokesperson Sarah Jacobs saying the group had prepared for the stunt for a period of weeks.
Once on top the building, the activists put up banners picturing the distinctive outside of the Europa building engulfed in flames, lighting flares and setting off clouds of smoke, in a protest promoted on social media with the hashtag: #HouseOnFire.
The protest was meant to “sound the alarm,” on the state of the environment under current carbon emissions, with a large banner unrolled in the centre reading: “Climate Emergency.”
The demonstration lasted until around noon, and ended with the arrest of 50 activists, with the incident currently being investigated by police.
A spokesperson for the EU Council, Katharina Pausch-Homblé, said the protest disrupted traffic but that the summit could take place without major disruptions, adding that the Council had no position on the protest, which comes a day after Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen unveiled the European Green Deal.
“We consider the Green Deal an aspirational effort,” Jacobs said, adding that the EU’s current proposals were “not good enough,” since they fell short of the goals adopted in the Paris Climate Agreements.
The Brussels Times