How the first school strike for climate of the year will go down in Brussels
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    How the first school strike for climate of the year will go down in Brussels

    Youth for Climate leaders Adelaïde Charlier (left) and Anuna De Wever in Brussels during a climate protest in 2019. © Belga

    Students from across Belgium will descend on the streets of Brussels on Friday to take part in the first youth strike for climate of 2020.

    The theme chosen by the student activist Youth for Climate group for their return to the streets was ocean pollution, in a protest event which wraps up with a non-profit-led ocean awareness week in Brussels.

    Hundreds of people on social media said they would be joining in the strike, with nearly 2,000 expressing interesting in the event, which will kick off shortly after midday.

    Protesters are called to gather at Gare Centrale at 13:30 PM and will then set off marching around an hour later in the direction of Gare du Midi.

    Demonstrators are expected to go through the boulevards de l’Empereur, du Midi and Maurice Lemonnier, with Brussels police saying that traffic disturbances were to be expected until around 5:00 PM.

    The school strikes encountered widespread success in Belgium in 2019, with schoolchildren and students from across the country pouring into the city streets to denounce political inaction against climate.

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    In Brussels, a march organised at the end of January 2019 gathered 35,000 protesters, many among them students who had chosen to skip school in protest.

    After the marches quieted down at the end of last year, with YFC focusing on the global COP25 climate summit, the student group is expecting this march to kick off a new year or political pressure as Belgium strives to meet crucial climate commitments.

    Following comments from the new Flemish minister for education, Ben Weyts, who called on students who attend the strikes to be marked as absent, it remains to be seen how many students will still respond to the call for the first strike of the year.

    Gabriela Galindo
    The Brussels Times