"It's a tremendous success and historic" says Charlotte Scheerens of Climate Express, one of the organisations that staged the demo. "We are over the moon. This provides so much hope for the future. It shows how many people back ambitious plans for climate policy in Belgium. It’s an enormously strong signal for politicians who will no longer be able to ignore it."
Climate Express, the Climate Coalition and BOS+ staged the protest ahead of the COP24 climate summit that starts in Poland today. Demonstrators want politicians to show more ambition and implement profound national climate policies to limit global warming to 1.5°C as agreed in the Paris climate treaty.
"In precise terms we now expect more action on renewable energy, more efficient energy use and fewer emissions" says Charlotte Scheerens of Climate Express. "The climate story requires a social policy too. Together with the employers, local authorities and training centres politicians need to work out a plan to provide new jobs for people employed in the fossil fuel sector”.
"We must stop toying with the illusion that citizens can sort it on their own" says David Van Meel of the Climate Coalition. "We need to talk about a change of system. Fossil fuels, large scale industrial meat farming for food consumption can no longer be our points of departure."
The Belgian energy and environment minister Marie-Christine Marghem (MR) called for people to take part in the march, but organisers insist she should act with greater commitment. "That hasn't happened so far. We are still having trouble with antiquated nuclear power plants. This is a policy field in which Marghem could have played a role."