Some 35,000 protesters took part on Thursday in the third climate protest, organised by students in Brussels, according to the capital police. The police had originally announced that 32,000 protesters took part in the march, but revised their estimate upward after factoring in latecomers. Last Thursday, 12,500 secondary-school students had skipped class to call for policy measures against climate change, dwarfing the first protest, held the week before.
This time around, students of universities and other tertiary institutions joined the protest for the first time. The marchers carried placards with slogans, mainly in English, such as “Make Belgium great again”, “We want climate justice” and “Cool kids against global warming”. They also called on the authorities to pursue policies more beneficial to the environment.
The protest started at the Brussels central railway station, made a broad circle through the city, passing through the Porte de Namur, then ended back at the central station.
“It’s a success,” commented Maxime Michiels, president of the Federation of French-speaking Students, FEF. “It’s undeniable proof that the more politics becomes disengaged from the youth, the more the youth become engaged in politics. Through this type of action, the youth oblige (the Government) to take their opinion into account even if some do not have the right to vote.”
Participation in the weekly protest has increased sharply from week to week. About 3,000 students from Flemish educational institutions stayed away from school for the first protest, organised by Youth for Climate on 10 January. The demonstrators called on the Federal Government to take strong measures to limit global warming to under 1.5°C.
The following week, they were joined by students from the French-language schools, which increased the number of protestors to 12,500.
Thousands more joined the third protest after the FEF called on higher-education students to adhere to the youthful pro-environment movement.