Amid the ongoing grassroot mobilisation on climate change, political parties have been churning out climate proposals ahead of the mid-year elections. The new president of the Humanist Democratic Centre (cdH), Maxime Prévot set the tone for her party on Saturday, announcing that “the environment must systematically fuel the action of our party.”
The Socialist Party (PS) has issued 30 proposals for the climate and, on Sunday, Democratic Federalist Independent (Défi) president Olivier Maingain recalled his party’s combat against highways in Brussels and airplane nuisance.
The Ecologist party, Ecolo, recently called for a “climate law” while the Belgian Workers Party (PTB)wants multinationals to pay for the CO2 emissions they give off.
Belgians go to the polls in five months and the Delegate General of the Reformist Movement (MR), Georges-Louis Bouchez, has called for a “national debate” for the election campaign. “We need a real mandate. Each party should come with very concrete measures and we must be able to ask people about what they want and the consequences they are prepared to accept,” he stressed.
Why? “Because we have to avoid the schizophrenia of marching for the climate on Thursday and Saturday, and blocking a roundabout on Friday because life has become too expensive,” he explained to Belga news agency. “The time for small steps is over. We have to take very structural measures.”
The “Thursdays for climate” weekly protests organised by secondary school students have been increasingly successful, attracting 35,000 persons on 24 January. The head of the movement in Flanders, Aruna De Wever, warned on the RTL-TVi on Sunday that their mobilisation will continue until the elections. One of her counterparts in Wallonia-Brussels, Augustin Crespin, added that the protests could well continue after the polls to put pressure on the governmental negotiations.
The determination of the young people and their awareness of the need for radical lifestyle changes seem rock solid. “We are here to warn of an emergency,” says climate activist Adélaïde Charlier. “If we are in the streets, it’s because we want to make it known that we are ready for these extreme measures.”
Earlier this month, the Flemish Environment Minister, Joke Schauvliege, announced that she planned to organise a roundtable conference bringing together 300 young people from Flemish communes and climate experts.
However, the young climate activists feel the time for endless consultations has passed.
“There is a report by the GIEC [Intergovernmental Group on Climate Change],” Aruna De Wever said on Sunday. “Inviting 300 young people is not useful. Invite 300 experts and come up with a climate policy.”