Some 1,100 persons marched through the streets of Brussels on Thursday as students teamed up with senior citizens and university deans to shake the authorities into action on climate change, according to police figures. The deans, Vincent Blondel (UCLouvain), Naji Habra (UNamur), Rik Van De Walle (UGent), Pierre Jadoul (Saint-Louis University) and Université libre de Bruxelles (VUB)’s Caroline Pauwels, led the procession alongside Anuna De Wever, emblematic figure of the “Youth for Climate” movement that launched the weekly school strikes in favour of the climate in January.
The academic leaders’ support is a significant boost to the movement since there had been fears that the start of the Easter holidays could have an adverse effect on the students’ enthusiasm. A senior citizens’ group had also called on “grandparents”, in a press release issued this week, to come out in support of the students’ action.
“The debate needs to take scientific evidence into account; it must feed into the political decisions,” said Ghent University’s Rik Van De Walle. “It is very important to support the youth, especially during the vacation and encourage them to pursue their mobilisation”.
In the crowd, hundreds of primary, secondary and university students, as well as families – some of them with very young children and grand-parents – brandished their traditional slogans and placards defending scientific truth and calling for urgent measures against the effects of global warming.
The procession was scheduled to disperse at the Gare du Midi station.