Photo of the week: There is no Planet B


The young organisers of yesterday’s Youth for Climate march in Brussels plan to skip school every Thursday until politicians listen

School strike

Some 3,000 pupils skipped school yesterday to march for the climate in Brussels. Under the name Youth for Climate, the march left from Brussels Central Station at about 10.00 and made its way to Schuman and Luxemburgplein.

The march was organised by Antwerp teenagers Anuna De Wever and Kyra Gantois, who were inspired by the now-famous Swedish pupil Greta Thunberg. Thunberg is skipping school every Friday to hold a banner that reads “School strike for the climate” outside the parliament building in Stockholm.

Thunberg has inspired secondary school pupils across the globe to go on “strike from school” for the climate. “Scientists keep telling us that we’re digging our own graves, but nobody is doing anything,” one Flemish student told Bruzz yesterday. “Why should we go to school if there is no future for us?”

Another pupil said that he was disappointed that nothing came of the massive climate march in Brussels on 2 December that drew 65,000 people. “We want to bring everyone’s attention back to the problem of climate change.”

Rising up

Youth for Climate attracted mostly Dutch-speaking secondary school pupils, as well as some of their teachers and administrators. A few politicians also took part in the march, including Groen party president Meyrem Almaci and Flemish parliament member Bruno Tobback of S.PA.

Among the mostly English-language signs at the march were the sentiments “There is no Planet B”, “Stand for what you stand on” and “The ocean is rising, and so are we”.

According to the young organisers, it was never the intention to stage a march, but the crowd that gathered for the planned rally on Europakruispunt grew too big to contain.

The climate needs to be a bigger priority in politics

- Student activist Anuna De Wever

They marched towards the Flemish parliament building on Hertogsstraat but were stopped by police to prevent them entering the neutral zone, and then they changed course and headed east to Schuman. Although they did not have a permit to march, police did not try to intervene, and the rest of the march was peaceful, according to a police spokesperson.

Some of the schools gave pupils permission to skip the day to attend the march, while others forbid it, losing many pupils to the march anyway. De Wever said that it was her intention to protest at on Europakruispunt in front of Central Station every Thursday and that she hoped others would join her.

Her goal is to see “the climate become a bigger priority in politics,” she said on De Afspraak yesterday evening. “I would find it fantastic if ministers came to one of our marches and said: ‘We have heard you. We’re going to do something.’” She will continue, she said, “until something happens.”

Photo: Laurent Lefebvre/BELGA