More than 12,000 Belgian young students skipped school today to draw attention to a more ambitious climate change policy. They travel past European institutions in a long march from Brussels Central station.
“Brossen voor de bossen,” is the motto: truancy for the forests. That started exactly a week ago, with a moderate protest with 3000 students.
Yesterday, the 17-year-old organizers of that protest, Anuna De Wever and Kyra Gantois, had a meeting with three ministers. They were given a powerpoint presentation in which the Belgian climate policy was explained, but afterwards they were not convinced.
Because they believe that measures to prevent global warming must be taken more quickly, they are going to take to the streets again today, together with thousands of others. This time the protest is more organized and pupils have been raised in schools to organize actions.
From the train to Antwerp the protests have already started. Young students with cardboard signs sitting on their lap between businessmen on their way to work, while the students call “Brossen voor de bossen”. They were also seen dancing in the walkways to music by Bob Marley.
“We want to organize more and get into action outside school days,” says Roel Segers from Heilig Graf, a school in Turnhout. “This is how politics sees that we mean it and not just to play truant.” Next Sunday, we want to organize a cleanup action in our village. “
Some schools supported the protest, but not all. Students who had an exam today and were not present will receive a zero. Teachers who support the protest ask their students to make a selfie in Brussels as proof, with the train ticket in the picture.
Parents also seem to be divided over the demonstrations. A student reports that his parents blocked his bank account so that he could not buy a train ticket. His friends loaned the amount so that he could still come to Brussels.
A new protest will be on the schedule in Brussels next week.