The Flemish minister responsible for climate policy, Joke Schauvliege, responded on Friday to the increasing mobilisation of students by announcing the organisation in February of a conference on climate, bringing together young people and experts. One youth from each commune in Flanders would be invited to the meeting, the Christian Democratic and Flemish (CD&V) minister announced in the Gazet van Antwerpen newspaper. “It could be compared to the G1000 citizen’s initiative,” she said, in a reference to an experiment in participatory democracy that followed a parliamentary crisis in 2010-2011. “It will be a G300,” she added.
Schauvliege said she was still looking for a venue for the conference.
The climate ministers in Belgium’s federal and regional governments have recently come in for criticism for what detractors see as their lack of ambition and cooperation on climate. Among their strongest critics have been the young students who have staged protests marches on the past three Thursdays to press for bolder climate policies.
Schauvliege said she was grateful to the 35,000 to 40,000 young demonstrators who participated in this Thursday’s climate demonstration since they increased public support for measures to protect the climate.
“We shall also have to be able to announce measures that are not very nice,” noted the minister, referring to a tax on airplane flights that she has been calling for at the European level. The Thursday marches by the youths could bolster efforts to obtain consent for such measures, according to the minister.
Admitting that more needed to be done to attain the 2050 climate goals, Schauvliege stressed that the Flemish Government respected its international commitments. However, she also mentioned hurdles, such as budgetary limitations, the difficulty in “involving everyone” and the fact that the necessary preservation of a social policy would require reducing ambitions to avoid the disengagement of part of the population.
Meanwhile, the CD&V minister also criticized her partners in the Flemish Government – the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) and Open Vld – for blocking a plan to introduce deposits on cans and plastic bottles.