Overall, near 20.000 youngs according to the police, went to the streets to demand to the Government a new law, a more ambitious one, that would accelerate the calendar of reduction of polluting emissions.
In the strikes that continue forthe fifth Thursday in a row, highschool students have shown that the movement has no signs of fatigue despite its hyperactivity: there were demonstrations in Antwerp, Kortrijk, Hasselt, Liège, Herve, Mons and the Belgian capital itself. The principal march staged in Leuven this time. There, 10.000 students formed the biggest multitude, followed by the 5.000 Brussels students and the 2.000 Arlon students, next to the border with Luxembourg.
The continued student pressure has attained to influence in the high Belgian policy in few than a month. On Tuesday, the Flemish minister of Environment, Joke Schauvliege, became the first victim of the protests. During a meeting with an agricultural syndicate, the Christian Democrat leader said that the security services of State have assured that the students took part in a “conspiracy” and they were been “manipulated”. A few hours ago, due to the criticism, she took a step back and admitted that she hasn’t received such a warning, but the political pressure for her fake accusations took her finally to announce in tears her resignation in a press conference. “The debate about Climate doesn’t have to be around me, therefore I take this step that should bring back serenity”, she explained via her Twitter account.
The unexpected student movement has brought to the foreground the Climate debate, which remained aside in Belgium by the immigration conflict or the reform of the State to fulfill the need for new competencies of Flemish nationalists.
The present case can move from words to deeds soon. A dozen constitutionalists and environmental law experts from many Flemish and French-speaking universities showed the last week a proposed law about Climate that expands by 65% the goal of emission reduction for 2030 with regard to the level of 1990. Besides, the proposed law has the commitment to create new structures: an inter-federal climatic agenda and a committee of independent environmental experts. Socialists and ecologists have achieved bringing the text to the Belgian Parliament for being submitted to the vote in the next weeks, although the closing date of 26th May complicates its approval before elections.
At ground level, the Swedish Greta Thunberg with only 16 years, has become an icon for the demonstrators. Most of them know her and have watched videos about her interventions at Katowice and Davos shaming the political class that doesn’t think in the future of young people. The scholar strikes that Thunberg started in her country had its most important report in Belgium. Two of the leaders of the Belgian movement, Anuna de Wever and Adelaïde Charlier, with 17 and 18 years respectively, talked this Monday by Skype with the environmentalist leader. “You are our inspiration”, they said to her.
WE ENCOURAGE OUR STUDENTS TO SOCIAL COMMITMENT
The scholar movement for the Climate has reached in Belgium unimaginable dimensions over a month ago. In the strike on 10th January there were 3.000 demonstrators, a week later there were 12.500, the next one, 35.000, and one Thursday later there were 27.500. In the last one, there were 20.000 demonstrators. The challenge on the streets of a part of the population -highschool students-, unusual for trespassing political issues, has been strengthened. From educational establishments, the improvised revolt that has left empty the desks is approved in many cases. “We like to encourage our students to be socially committed, that’s why we are so satisfied that Kyra has been involved so much in the cause”, they said from AP Hogeschool, Kyra Gantois’ educational establishment, together with Anuna de Wever and Adelaïde Charlier, one of the three young students that lead the student demonstrations in Belgium.
Translator: Alba Alonso