Brussels-City declares climate emergency
The municipality is the second in the country to make the symbolic commitment, reinforcing its climate policies and reacting to citizen concerns
‘A strong symbol’
The declaration is a way for the municipal council to emphasise the importance of its climate policy, which includes an improved traffic plan, better water management and a zero-waste target as priorities. “With this declaration, the city is reacting in a concrete way to the concerns of citizens and the warnings of the scientific community and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,” a spokesperson said.
In effect, the move is primarily a symbolic commitment. While the municipality has pledged to become carbon-neutral by 2050, this was already a target for the Brussels-Capital Region as a whole and is therefore required by Brussels-City, one of the 19 municipalities that make up the region.
In May, the municipality of Koekelberg, in the north of the capital region, was the first in the country to declare a climate emergency. Brussels-City is the second. “As well as it being a strong symbol in itself, we want to explicitly subscribe to the goals of the Brussels region,” said Soetkin Hoessen, Ecolo-Groen fraction leader, who proposed the motion alongside the leaders of PS, Change.Brussels and Défi on the municipal council. It was supported by CD&V and PVDA.
On Friday last week, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Brussels and other cities in Belgium and around the world to call for more action from governments to mitigate the effects of climate change.
The event was a continuation of the School Strike for Climate movement started by Greta Thunberg in 2018 and spearheaded locally by Antwerp teenagers Anuna De Wever and Kyra Gantois. Police figures put the number of participants at the protest in Brussels at 15,000. Meanwhile, world leaders are meeting this week at the UN climate summit in New York to discuss the issue.
Photo: Belga/Benoît Doppagne