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60-hour climate demonstration under way in Brussels

Demonstrators pictured during the start of the longest demonstration (three days) organised by the coalition Climate Belgium (Greenpeace, BBL, Oxfam solidarity, Youth for Climate), Monday 30 November 2020, in Brussels. During sixty hours, sixty demonstrators relay in Namur and Brussels to ask for more ambitions of governments. (BELGA PHOTO ERIC LALMAND)
09:38 01/12/2020

A large-scale 60-hour climate demonstration began on the Boulevard du Régent in Brussels at 15.00 on Monday, in front of the headquarters of the minister-president of the Brussels government Rudi Vervoort after first gathering outside the Walloon parliament in Namur earlier that morning. Some 60 activists will take turns calling on the European Union to reduce greenhouse gases by at least 60% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.

Each protester is entitled to one hour of action, during which they can deliver speeches or make statements. A member of Bral, a movement advocating sustainable initiatives in Brussels, launched the demonstration in front of Rudi Vervoort's office with a speech on air quality. Zanna Vanrenterghem, spokesperson for the Climate Coalition, made up of environmental associations, trade unions and citizens' collectives, opened the event in the morning in front of the Walloon parliament, followed by an address by Adelaide Charlier, co-organiser of Youth for Climate.

"We want to put pressure on our various governments because they will have to vote on the European Climate Act in two weeks," Adelaide Charlier said. "At the moment, our policies are completely disowning the Paris Agreement (which plans to contain the rise in temperatures well below 2°C and, if possible, at 1.5°C)."

To achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, the European Commission is proposing a reduction of at least 55% in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. The European Parliament argues for a reduction up to 60%. Member states have yet to agree. The summit on 10 and 11 December will address the issue.

The commitments made by the signatory states of the Paris Agreement place the planet on a warming trajectory of at least 3°C. "The impacts of climate change are being repeated and worsening," said Nicolas Van Nuffel, president of the Climate Coalition. "Effectively combating the climate crisis means more ambition at all levels."

Mathieu Soete, climate expert at Greenpeace, added that "by transforming our industry and energy, isolating our homes or making our food more local and vegetable-based, there are tremendous opportunities in terms of employment and citizen participation. Every tenth of a degree counts to keep warming below 1.5°C."

In the evening, to respect the curfew in place as part of the current coronavirus restrictions, participants will take turns to speak via video from Greenpeace headquarters. On Tuesday, the demonstration will target the Flemish government and on Wednesday the federal government.

Written by Nick Amies