Participants in Thursday’s Youth-for-Climate march stressed that Belgium risked missing environmental targets unless it ramped up the fight against climate change and vowed to keep up the pressure on the country’s politicians to do so. Speaking at the end of the march in Louvain-la-Neuve, Youth for Climate’s Francophone spokesperson, Adélaïde Charlier, recalled a recent European Commission warning that Belgium would miss its 2020 and 2030 targets without new measures to reduce CO2 emissions and accelerate the switch to renewable energy.
Politicians need to be sent back to school, she said, adding that the young people – some 4,000 of whom took part in this week’s march – would remain mobilised.
“We’re here even during holidays,” Charlier said. “And when we have bad reports, we are sent back to school for remedial classes. Who would dare send us back to school when they have not met the targets set?
“There is a proposal to tax air tickets; that’s not enough; they need to do much more than that! Let’s send the politicians back to their school and continue to mobilise ourselves,” Charlier added, to the applause of the youths massed at the Place de l’Université in Louvain-la-Neuve.
The ninth weekly Youth-for-Climate march was strongly supported by scientists and members of staff of the Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL). Professor of Climatology Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, a former president of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), featured prominently in the march, carrying a placard that read: “You cannot ignore the youths’ messages as you have ignored the IPCC’s reports”.
According to van Ypersele, political and economic decision-makers have disregarded the messages contained in successive IPCC reports even though the planet’s very capacity to sustain life is at stake.
The youth movement in favour of the global climate now involves over 500 towns in more than 40 countries, he noted, describing this as “very encouraging.”
“I hope they will make things move,” he said. “It’s harder to ignore the words of a youth who looks you in the eye while wondering about the future than to dump an IPCC report in a drawer.”