This past Sunday, the 2nd of December, several Sustainability Science and Policy (SSP) master’s students (and some friends!) traveled to Brussels to join the Claim the Climate march, organized by Climate Express and several other Belgian organizations. The march was organized in light of the start of the 24th session of the UNFCCC’s Conference of the Parties (COP) in Katowice, Poland. COP 24 is supposed to outline the actual actions that countries must follow to achieve the commitments made in the 2015 Paris Climate Accord.
We traveled by train from Maastricht to Brussels, jamming ourselves into packed train cars headed for the Belgian capital. Organizers of the event anticipated 20,000-25,000 individuals to participate in the march, but actual numbers were closer to 75,000 (according to the event organizers and police counts). The streets of Brussels were filled with families, students, and activists of all ages and affiliations. The march started at Brussels’ Gare du Nord and finished at the Parc du Cinquantenaire.
Participants marched with signs, drums, and musical instruments. Some hung in harnesses from street lights and poles with banners advocating for immediate and radical climate action. Many calls were explicitly directed to Belgian prime minister Charles Michel, who vowed post-march to ensure ambitious goals for Belgium at COP 24.
We were happy and inspired to be among the individuals who joined for the march. While the ongoing reports from the COP 24 process have been less than wonderful (and downright hypocritical in the case of Michel’s statements), it is clear that there is incredible citizen momentum, especially from younger generations. ASAP plans to continue to support showing up for climate action, not only at protests like Claim the Climate but in our education and local community.